rick rozoff

Turkey to upgrade Ukraine’s navy, prepare it for NATO
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 21 2021

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Ukraine, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Dmytro Kuleba, met during the weekend’s three-day Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey to discuss yet further strengthening bilateral military cooperation. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry disclosed this about the content of the meeting:

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu assured that Turkey would continue to support Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration in all possible ways. The ministers discussed the possibilities of enhanced cooperation between the Ukrainian and Turkish navies which will help implement NATO standards in the Ukrainian Navy, increase their defense capabilities and interoperability with NATO member states, and generally strengthen cooperation between the countries for security in the Black Sea.

Foreign Minister Kuleba expressed gratitude to Turkey for its steadfast support for its admission to NATO leading up to and during the June 14 NATO summit in Brussels. Ankara’s backing for Ukraine’s NATO accession is second to none in the 30-nation military bloc. Kuleba told reporters at the conference that his nation is purchasing Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones “because Turkish drones are very good,” and very good precisely in this context:

Drones are needed to deter Russia so that Russia thinks twice, before planning, any escalation or any large-scale attack on Ukraine.

The foreign minister added that Turkey and Ukraine are collaborating “very closely” on exploiting the issue of Crimean Tatars to give Moscow an additional headache. Turkey, fresh from supporting the 44-day Azerbaijani war against Nagorno-Karabakh, would surely not object to replicating the model of “liberating” a Turkic/Muslim brother people from Russian occupation. Ukraine’s designation of Crimea, one which Turkey faithfully echoes, is that of temporarily-occupied territory: the same way Turkey views that portion of Nagorno-Karabakh not yet “liberated,” and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which its Georgian ally also proclaims occupied territories. Turkey is accommodating Ukraine’s military buildup, assisting its war in the Donbass, facilitating its entrance into NATO and preparing it to confront Russia in the Black Sea as it incites Tatar separatism in Crimea. The Turkish and Ukrainian foreign ministers also discussed plans for the impending 10th meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council chaired by presidents Zelensky and Erdoğan, and the next meeting of the two nations’ Quadriga format consisting of the defense and foreign ministers of both countries.

In April the Turkish and Ukrainian heads of state met in the Turkish capital for the most recent meeting of the High Level Strategic Council, which produced a twenty-point statement. In that document Turkey fully backs the position of Ukraine and its sponsors in the US, NATO and EU in regard to forcing the Donetsk and Lugansk republics to return to Ukraine, driving Russia out of Crimea and granting NATO membership to Kiev. The Joint Declaration of the 9th meeting of the High-Level Strategic Council between Ukraine and the Republic of Turkey demands “the de-occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as the territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”

After the Apr 10 meeting, the web page of the Ukrainian president confirmed that “all aspects of the strategic partnership between the two countries were considered at today’s meeting.” Zelensky was cited emphasizing commitments to joint work in the energy sphere and in weapons manufacturing. The energy factor involves among other matters the prospect of Ukraine connecting with the 1,100-mile Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline running from the Caspian Sea region to Turkey. Zelensky stated that Turkish-Ukrainian defense cooperation is “the locomotive of the strategic partnership between the two countries.” The last meeting of the Quadriga (2+2) was held on Mar 24, also in Ankara. The four ministers issued a joint statement afterward which in part reads:

National coordinators discussed ways to deepen cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey in the field of security and defense to restore stability and security in the Black Sea region, and to further develop cooperation in the defense industry. A separate topic of the consultations was the current situation on the Crimean peninsula temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation and the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The participants in the consultations exchanged views on the prospects for resolving conflicts in the regions of the Middle East, North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus.

Shortly before that meeting, Armenian Lebanese scholar Yeghia Tashjian warned:

The greatest fear is on a regional level. It is no secret that Ukraine is preparing for war or at least triggering an armed conflict in Russian-controlled Donbass with Turkish and Western blessings. It has been two weeks since I began monitoring the Ukrainian and Russian army’s supply routes and deployment of heavy weapons near Donbass. Kyiv, motivated by the Turkish and Azerbaijani victory in Artsakh, tried to establish military relations with Turkey and bought Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. Russia, aware that it may engage in a two-front war and knowing well that Armenia cannot defend itself against another Turkish-Azerbaijani invasion, is consolidating its presence in southern Armenia by building military posts and reopening the abandoned airfield of Sisian in Syunik.

When the news about the discussions between the Turkish and Ukrainian foreign ministers became public, Russian Lavrov issued this characteristically tepid statement:

We have made our position in regards to attempts to pull Ukraine into NATO very unambiguous. I have no doubts that serious, responsible states understand very clearly, what we mean. We plan another contact within our regular dialogue with the Turkish colleagues. I believe we will discuss this topic as well, of course.

A couple of says earlier, when asked about Turkey considering opening a military base in conquered Nagorno-Karabakh, Lavrov shrugged his shoulders and said:

I don’t respond to rumors.

The statement was made by the Turkish president himself and published in the Turkish press. As to how truly concerned the Russian government is about the behavior of its Turkish “colleagues,” this effusion by Peskov a few weeks ago should clarify matters:

Turkey and Turkey’s commitment to its independent course of development, which is quite firm, are generally the subject for heightened attention and, perhaps, concern at NATO. And, of course, this is a subject of US concern and the way the US is trying to raise its voice at Ankara…obviously indicate that Washington does not like how Erdogan is confidently leading Turkey forward and that they would prefer a more compliant Turkey.

Tomorrow at noon: Belarus and 80th anniversary of Nazi invasion
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 21 2021

The Belarusian state news agency reports that the nation will observe a minute of silence tomorrow to commemorate the victims of the Nazi invasion of the country that began eighty years ago tomorrow. At twelve o’clock in the afternoon citizens are encouraged to pause in remembrance of the millions of victims of Operation Barbarossa and its aftermath. The Belarusian Telegraph Agency today showcases comments by Nikolai Shchekin of the Sociology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus which include the lament that it is both “deeply symbolic and tragic” the West has chosen just this historical moment, the anniversary of the Nazi invasion, to impose the latest round of major sanctions against his nation. He also offered this sobering reminder:

Everyone will agree with me that Jun 22 1941 is the most tragic day in our history. Perhaps no date highlights the historical tragic fate of the Belarusian people like this one. The entire millennial history pales before the horrific history of the Great Patriotic War. It affected the lives of everyone, left a scar on the hearts and souls of millions of Belarusians and other Soviet peoples, their descendants.

But the world doesn’t care. Go to Google News and search for Belarus, and headlines like these will be found:

  • Belarus Faces Expanded EU Sanctions, Targeting Economy (NYT)
  • US, EU and Britain slap sanctions on Belarus officials and companies (Reuters)
  • Lithuania says Belarus is helping Middle Eastern migrants to cross its borders (Reuters)
  • US Slaps Sanctions on Belarus Over Human Rights Abuses, Erosion of Democracy (US News & World Report)

The Belarusian scholar is also quoted bemoaning the fact that:

Historical memory is the most valuable thing that remains in the history of society and mankind. Today, it is with sadness and heavy hearts that we have been watching the absurd and chaotic nature of what is happening. Actions, words, ideas, people are being forgotten. It is difficult to wrap you head around their attempts to denigrate the great heroic pages of our people and desecrate our cherished memory.

He further denounces “recent attempts by the collective West to rewrite the tragic” history of World War II in Belarus, adding that such a campaign of historical revisionism “must be regarded as a declaration of war: a war on the historical truth and the memory, our independence.” As the people of Belarus pause for a minute tomorrow at noon, they would be wise to reflect on these words from the same source:

80 years have passed, but the graves of millions of Red Army soldiers, monuments reminding us of the atrocities of the Nazis in concentration camps, obelisks that perpetuate the heroic feat of the Belarusian people are a reminder to all of us, now living, about the criminal efforts of the collective West to ‘democratize’ Belarus.

He is not the only person to note the parallel, as Belarus was singled out in a hostile fashion in the communiqué issued at last week’s NATO summit and as the US and NATO boost warplanes, troops, armor and missiles in the neighboring states of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and its neighbor to the south, Ukraine, accuses it of plotting military aggression. Further comments by the scholar are as germane and uncompromising as the occasion requires:

As a scholar I know that a war of symbols has always been a harbinger of real military actions. In this regard, the claims of the collective West, especially Germany and Poland, to the moral high ground look inherently criminal. The demolition of monuments to the Red Army in Western countries (Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Romania, Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovakia) defies reasonable explanation. The falsification of history is a crime against descendants.

Finally, he offers this timely admonition:

It is everyone’s duty to bow low to all those who died under the bombardment of the Luftwaffe, who perished in the concentration camps and in villages burnt to the ground, who were brutally tortured by the Gestapo, who were subjected to savage medical and biological experiments and who were buried alive and put to death in the torture chambers. Our generation has no right to forget the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany and the fascist democracy of the collective West. We cannot permit a repeat of the genocide against Belarus. Holding a nationwide minute of silence will be an immutable and vital tradition, immortalizing the souls and hearts of the victims.

Not just the people of Belarus but everyone in the world should pause for a minute tomorrow at noon. Religious believers should say a prayer for the tens of millions of Belarusians and others who perished as a result of the invasion of eighty years ago. And pledge to ban every bayonet, bomb and barracks on the planet. On Friday the speaker of the lower house of the Belarusian parliament, Vladimir Andreichenko, participated in an event to commemorate tomorrow’s horrendous anniversary, and said:

As long as we feel it, we remain human. Memory is the ongoing commitment of generations. They tell us to forget everything, but history is not some kind of toy. It is not something you can distort. No, history is eternal: there are justice, facts and evidence. If we forget the past, then we can repeat it. We cannot allow this to happen. We must preserve the memory of the past in order to continue the dialogue with the present and ensure the future.

It is a tragedy in its own right that the above sentiment is only expressed, perhaps is only felt, in tiny Belarus. The parliamentarian added this, which is ignored at the peril of moral decay and demise:

There can be no oblivion and forgiveness of these crimes. The memory of the ordeals endured by our fathers and grandfathers is filled with pain and sorrow, but also with pride for those who did everything possible and impossible to win that war.

He also challenged all of us, too often in a state of political amnesia, in a moral coma, to shake off lethargy and complacency and recall our historical obligations:

Some do not like it today. The current followers of the Nazis and their accomplices are trying to confuse people; first of all the young, the immature. They promise them easy money and a la dolce vita life. Only the prosperity that is created by own own hands is lasting. That is why we must not give up our positions. We need all government and public institutions to work together. We might have missed something in the past, but we are aware of this problem. We need to do our best so that our children continue to believe in the same values that were important to us.

Tomorrow at 12:00.

History repeats itself: how united Europe treated Belarus 80 years and how it treats it today
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 22 2021

On the 80th anniversary of the invasion of the Soviet Union by three million soldiers from Germany and its European allies, an official of that part of the invaded nation which suffered the worst casualties and the worst devastation, Belarus, stated the West is attempting to evade responsibility for the genocide that ensued. One that, by Belarusian calculations, cost the lives of a third of the population of the then-Soviet republic. Oleg Dyachenko, a member of the upper house of his country’s parliament and vice-rector for academic affairs at Kuleshov Mogilev State University, used language rarely heard in relation to contemporary developments. He said that the collective West, by which he could only mean the US, NATO and EU (the last announced yesterday, as though intentionally timed for the occasion of the anniversary, crushing sanctions against Belarus) was trying to disavow responsibility for the genocide of the Belarusian people. The latter is his exact expression. The senator added in detail which is worth sharing with a world that knows nothing (and doesn’t appear to much care) about it the national tragedy that began 80 years ago today:

Jun 22 1941 is a mournful date in the history of Belarusian people. The treacherous attack of Nazi Germany and its allies led to the total destruction of the country’s economy. Civilians faced terror that was unprecedented in its scale. All in all, 9,200 Belarusian villages located in the occupied territories were burned by Nazi hit squads; of them over 5,000 villages were burned together with women, old people and children. In fact, every district of our country has its own Khatyn and its own Borki, sacred places of sorrow and pain for the Belarusian people. The entire country is covered with memorials, single and mass graves. This tragedy took a heavy toll on the demographic situation, and we are still dealing with its consequences many decades after.

The mass-scale butchery and attempt at extermination of the Belarusian people, of all ages, occupations and religious backgrounds, is a story hidden from the people of the West by its politicians, statesmen and historians. But they are very much alive in Belarus; not just in the individual memories and the collective memory of the people, but the brutal, unconscionable crimes of 80 years ago are quite literally being unearthed even today. The Belarusian parliamentarian also said:

New evidence of Nazi crimes against civilians is being found and documented all the time: places of executions and burial of Belarusian Holocaust victims are established. This spring we found five previously-unknown single burial sites of local peasants shot by German executioners in one of the villages of the Mogilev District in July 1942. And there are hundreds of such places; but unfortunately, not all war criminals received the punishment they deserved for their atrocities. Many of them fled to the near and far West, where the so-called mature democracies took them under their protection using various far-fetched pretexts and resorting to legal casuistry.

Operation Barbarossa and the torrents of blood, the eternally echoing screams, the unmarked grave sites and the remains they contain still to be discovered and identified, the traumatized children of an entire generation will not disappear. The recollection of them will not be allowed to dissolve into oblivion. The very West that visited those horrors upon the small European nation and its people is once again – on the 80th anniversary of Barbarossa – surrounding Belarus with air bases, missile batteries, NATO battlegroups, tanks, artillery and troops in four of the five countries that surround the nation: Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. NATO, a military bloc with 30 members that dwarfs Germany’s Fortress Europe alliance of 1941, dedicated a section of its recent summit document to criticizing Belarus on virtually all fronts. Nations that provided troops (including so-called volunteers) for the invasion of 80 years ago are now NATO members or Enhanced Opportunities Partners, including Germany, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Don’t expect any of those countries to express remorse today; they’re too occupied in sanctioning, condemning and plotting “regime change” in Belarus. The above-quoted official also issued this reminder and leveled a correlative accusation:

We remember very well that 80 years ago it was the ‘united Europe’ of that time led by Nazi Germany that unleashed a terrible war against our people. History repeats itself. Western politicians do not like to remember this today … and, at the suggestion of new collaborators, are trying to change the agenda unleashing another hybrid war against the people of Belarus, imposing economic sanctions, blocking flights and spreading disinformation about our country. There is an obvious attempt by the collective West to evade responsibility for unleashing the genocide of the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War and to avoid serious compensations to the families of the victims of the Belarusian Holocaust.

The disturbing parallel he drew doesn’t need to be made in his country, except among much of its youth; it should not have been necessary to draw it for the rest of the world, particularly for the people of the nations that inflicted the fiendish death and destruction he described; nor for the West as a whole. But it has proven necessary to do so if for no other reason than to strip those who are bent on wreaking new aggression against Belarus (and not only that nation) of the claim that they knew not what they did after the fact, and to pull the fraudulent halo of sanctity off their collective forehead beforehand.

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