rick rozoff

Italian, Albanian troops to join NATO Black Sea war groups
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Italy to lead NATO combat unit in Bulgaria, to send up to 800 troops
Reuters, May 18 2022

Italy will take over the leadership of a new NATO combat unit that is being set up in Bulgaria. Italy could deploy up to 800 troops and military equipment in the Black Sea country. The government also allowed the participation of 40 troops from Albania. The US and Britain have already agreed to provide one company each to the Bulgarian battle group. A company typically numbers between 150 and 200 soldiers. NATO, which has already beefed up its eastern flank to 40,000 troops spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea, agreed in March to set up new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

NATO headquarters: Finland, Sweden submit membership application letters
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO
NATO, May 18 2022

Finland and Sweden on Wednesday morning (May 18 2022) simultaneously handed in their official letters of application to join NATO. The letters were conveyed by the Finnish Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen and respectively, the Swedish Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff, toStoltenberg at NATO HQ in Brussels. Stoltenberg warmly welcomed the requests, saying ”this is a good day, at a critical moment for our security.”

Stoltenberg with Korhonen and Wernhoff

Remarks by Stoltenberg with Korhonen and Wernhoff
NATO, May 18 2022

I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners. And your membership in NATO would increase our shared security. The applications you have made today are an historic step. Allies will now consider the next steps on your path to NATO.

Mediterranean, Baltic: US nuclear carrier group, amphibious assault ship put under NATO command
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

US carrier group, amphibious assault ship placed under NATO command
NATO, May 18 2022

The Truman aircraft carrier strike group and other US naval vessels have come under NATO command as part of a series of major military drills in the Baltic, Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. In the Mediterranean, the US carrier group has been placed under NATO command for the second time this year for exercise “Neptune Shield” which runs from May 17-30. This marks only the second transfer of a US carrier group to NATO since the end of the Cold War. The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group has also been placed under NATO command and is currently operating in the Baltic Sea for a series of drills with NATO Allies and partners.

Photo: NATO

Afghanistan 1980, Ukraine 2022: US, Organization of Islamic Cooperation to hold strategic dialogue
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

US-Organization of Islamic Cooperation Strategic Dialogue
US Dept of State, Mar 18 2022

The US and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will hold a strategic dialogue in Washington on May 23-24. The OIC delegation, headed by HE Sec-Gen Hissein Brahim Taha, will conduct a series of meetings with the Secretary and senior US Dept of State officials. This dialogue reflects the US commitment to expanding multilateral cooperation. The discussions with Sec-Gen Taha and the OIC delegation offer an opportunity to strengthen our partnerships and enable greater bilateral collaboration on shared global challenges.

Pentagon forges US-South Korea-Japan alliance against North Korea, Russia
Rick Rozoff, Antibellum, May 18 2022

Readout of Sec Def Austin’s Call With ROK Minister of Defense Lee Jong-sup
US Dept of Defense, May 18 2022

Sec Def Austin spoke with Republic of Korea Minister of Defense Lee Jong-sup today. Austin reaffirmed the ironclad US commitment to the defense of the ROK. The two leaders committed to maintaining “fight tonight” readiness and close cooperation in the face of continued provocative actions by the DPRK. Austin underscored the US commitment to defend the ROK through both the US-ROK combined defense posture and the US extended deterrent. Austin and Lee exchanged views on the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and in the Indo-Pacific region and affirmed the importance of maintaining the international rules-based order. Both sides agreed to enhance trilateral cooperation with Japan and broader cooperation in the region between the US and ROK governments. Austin also thanked Lee for continued ROK support to Ukraine.

Erdoğan says Turkey voice of world conscience, citing war zones in three continents
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Turkiye acted as representative of hope and conscience in Karabakh, says President
Azeri Press Agency, May 18 2022

“We accept the defense of rights of those, who take refuge in us, as a cultural and historical responsibility,” said Erdogan, APA’s correspondent in Istanbul reports. Erdogan has noted that these factors show Turkiye is a representative of hope and conscience in the world: “We take each of our political steps based on the concept away from our borders like within our country. We have acted and still act with the approach in crisis from Balkans to Africa, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Karabakh, Ukraine.”

Pentagon partnering with Azerbaijan in Caspian, Caucasus
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

US Embassy is proud to partner for Azerbaijan to bolster maritime security on the Caspian Sea
Azeri Press Agency, May 18 2022

The US Embassy in Azerbaijan tweeted: “Today Ambassador Litzenberger welcomed a delegation from the US European Command Joint Interagency Counter Trafficking Center to discuss Department of Defense security cooperation with Azerbaijan. The US Embassy is proud to partner for Azerbaijan to bolster maritime security on the Caspian Sea and defeat narcotics traffickers along the borders.”

NATO strengthens cyber warfare ties with Bosnia, Georgia, claiming imminent Russian attacks
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

NATO strengthens Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defense capabilities against cyber-attacks
Azertag, May 18 2022

NATO has strengthened Bosnia and Herzegovina’s defense against cyberattacks, Mircea Geoană, deputy secretary general of NATO, has said. He noted that NATO has strengthened Georgia’s defense capabilities [along?] with Bosnia and Herzegovina, including defense against cyber-attacks. Stressing the importance of being ready to defend and counter-attack against cyber-attacks, Geoană has viewed it as one of NATO’s priorities. He warned that Russia will soon carry out mass cyber-attacks against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia’s important digital infrastructure.

Brussels: top Georgian commander meets with NATO, EU military committees, Moldovan counterpart
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Georgian Defence Forces Chief, NATO Military Committee Chair discuss military cooperation
Agenda.ge, May 18 2022

Priorities and future prospects of the NATO-Georgia military cooperation were discussed on Wednesday in a meeting between Maj-Gen Giorgi Matiashvili, the Chief of the Georgian Defence Forces, and Admiral Rob Bauer, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee. Matiashvili thanked Bauer for his support for Georgia and stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation and increasing GDF compatibility with the alliance in the light of “existing threats and challenges,” the Ministry of Defence said. Held in Brussels, the meeting focused on the security environment in the Black Sea region and the large-scale aggression launched by Russia against Ukraine. Georgian and NATO military officials expressed their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and condemned Russia’s actions. Matiashvili briefed Bauer on the ongoing transformation process in the GDF, in addition to important initiatives under the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package. He also informed the Chair of the Military Committee on the long-term development plan for strengthening Georgia’s defence capacity, which envisages use of “all practical mechanisms” of cooperation with NATO and aims to increase GDF capabilities. The meeting also noted Georgia’s contribution to NATO-led international operations, with the Georgian delegation expressing its readiness to continue participating in the alliance’s future missions and operations.

Georgian Defence Forces Chief in EU Military Committee meeting
Agenda.ge, May 18 2022

Maj-Gen Giorgi Matiashvili, the Chief of the Georgian Defence Forces, was part of a meeting of the European Union Military Committee on Wednesday in Brussels. Held at the level of commanders of defence forces of EU member and partner countries, the gathering saw discussion of the EU Integrated Security and Defence Policy, the Georgian Ministry of Defence said. The participating military representatives also reviewed EU-led international military missions and operations. Matiashvili also discussed questions of bilateral cooperation and challenges with Gen Eduard Ohladchuk, the Chief of General Staff of the Moldovan National Army, at the event.

Stoltenberg: Georgia key asset in Black Sea, global campaigns
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Georgian PM, NATO Sec Gen discuss Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations
Agenda.ge, May 18 2022

Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration as a top priority of the country’s foreign and security policy was discussed on Wednesday during a meeting between the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Stoltenberg. Garibashvili stressed the close cooperation of his Government with the alliance in the integration process, which has seen Georgia “effectively use all the practical tools” on the path to eventual membership, the Government Administration said. Stoltenberg highlighted the role of Georgia as a “strong and reliable” partner of the alliance, noting its “important contribution” to the process of ensuring both global and Black Sea regional security. Garibashvili and Stoltenberg expressed hope Georgia‘s progress and aspirations would be “adequately” reflected in further decisions of NATO in terms of both political support for the country’s membership aspirations and the strengthening of its practical capabilities. The meeting also discussed the security environment in the Black sea region amid the war in Ukraine, with the PM reiterating the solidarity of the Georgian people towards the country. Stoltenberg reiterated his support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Garibashvili also thanked the Secretary General for his “personal efforts” in playing an “essential role” in Georgia’s progress on the path to NATO integration.

Erdoğan: NATO owes Turkey same solidarity shown to Ukraine
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

The whole world and half the population of Turkey, Kurdish and non-Kurdish alike, is conspiring against Ankara according to the delusions of this persecution-ridden new imperial entity. Presumably “ethnic kin” means coreligionists and former subjects of the Ottoman Empire.

Erdoğan urges NATO allies to ’respect’ concerns over Finland, Sweden
Hurriyet, May 18 2022

Ankara’s expectation from its NATO allies is to display the solidarity shown in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis to Turkey as well. Underlining that Ankara continues to properly fulfill its responsibilities within the Alliance despite the attitudes the NATO allies display towards Turkey, Erdoğan said on May 18, addressing his party’s parliamentary group meeting: “We are watching the solidarity and cooperation displayed in the region following the Ukraine crisis, the resources being mobilized, the arms being opened and the tolerance being shown. Turkey as a NATO ally has never experienced such a picture. Our only expectation from our NATO allies is for them to show the same good faith to Turkey’s efforts aimed at protecting its own borders and reinforcing its security and stability. We expect our allies to first understand our sensitivities and then to respect and finally, if possible, to support. Turkey has sensitivities arising from our responsibilities towards our brothers with whom we enjoy strong historical and humanitarian ties. Whatever the conditions, Turkey cannot turn its back on these people, to whom we are linked by the legacy of a common history and civilization. Turkey is the foremost among the countries lending the biggest support to the Alliance’s activities in practice. Yet this doesn’t mean that we will say ‘yes’ to every proposal brought before us. NATO’s enlargement is meaningful to us only to the extent that our sensitivities are respected. Asking us for support for NATO membership while providing every kind of support to the PKK/YPG terrorist organization amounts to incoherence, to say the least. What is more, we know so-called allies who covertly provoked this process just in order to put Turkey in trouble, and these are, take no offense, our allies in NATO; we know them very well. The fact that humanity has come to the brink of a great confrontation yet again after WW2, as made visible by the war on Ukrainian territory, has brought security balances to the forefront. NATO is in pursuit of enlarging its eastern borders, and accordingly various steps are being taken with a view to enlargement.”

Third player in Ukraine conflict: Turkey stakes claims to Crimea, Caucasus
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

‘Turkey to stand by Crimean Tatars to ensure their welfare’
Daily Sabah, May 18 2022

Turkey will continue to stand by the Crimean Tatars and protect their identity and ensure their welfare, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said Wednesday, in a message issued on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of their deportation. “Turkey will always continue to stand by the Crimean Tatars to protect their identities and ensure their welfare and wellbeing,” he said. Bilgiç also commemorated the Circassians who died after being deported by Tsarist Russia 158 years ago. “The Caucasian peoples have suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties during the Tsarist invasion of Caucasia in the 19th century.” The deportation of Crimean Tatars is also linked to the Turkish Straits crisis between the USSR and Turkey after WW2. If a conflict were to arise with Turkey in the Black Sea, Crimean Tatars, who have ethnic ties to Turks and share a common history with them from the Ottoman Empire, would pose a threat as an internal enemy. As the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of the 20th century, Crimean Tatars started returning to their homeland. Ever since then, the people have commemorated the victims of the deportation with mass rallies and prayers. The 70th anniversary of the nation’s tragedy, however, was marked by the Russian occupation of Crimea, strongly opposed by the Crimean Tatars who almost entirely remained loyal to Ukraine. Currently there are some 300k Crimean Tatars in Crimea which make up roughly 13% of the peninsula’s total population of 2m. Although not that great in numbers, the nation’s cohesion on most matters makes it a formidable political force. Since the Russian annexation, the UN, numerous international rights watchdogs and activists have documented increasing persecution of Crimean Tatars over their alignment with Ukraine. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the nation’s single highest executive-representative body, was banned by Russia as an extremist organization and its leaders were barred from entering the country.

Serbia under enormous pressure from EU/NATO states – president
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Vucic: Pressure on Serbia over Kosovo-Metohija extremely high
Tanjug, May 18 2022

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday Serbia was in a specific situation when it comes to all developments regarding Kosovo-Metohija and that extreme pressure over the issue had led him to hold a meeting with Serbian Orthodox Church archbishops to hear their opinions. Vucic said: “That is where it will be increasingly difficult to protect our interest because the pressure will get tougher than ever. Since the day the president of Russia said what his incursion into Ukraine was based on in terms of formal law and politically, all Western powers have been working on untying the Kosovo-Metohija knot in order to deprive the Russian president of that argument. Of course, the Russians have identified the mistakes they (Western countries) have made in the past and are using that for their needs, which is logical behaviour, but to us that is just an additional burden and additional trouble. Serbia is under enormous pressure as the only country in Europe that had not imposed any sanctions on Russia. That is giving us major problems, which are not small and will grow.”

Porfirije: Position of Church always one of praying for peace
Tanjug, May 18 2022

The position of the Church is always one of praying to God for peace, Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church said at a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday. He said everyone in the Serbian Orthodox Church was praying for peace to come to Ukraine as soon as possible, for the language of weapons to stop as soon as possible and for discussions and dialogue to begin. The language of dialogue must be one of love and the heart, Porfirije said. He thanked Vucic for everything he was doing as president to make the global crisis less felt by Serbian citizens, as well as for a brief and precise description of the global situation and the position Serbia was in. “We are all feeling that the times are complicated and more than difficult,” Porfirije said, adding that the conflict in Ukraine was not simply “a conflict between two countries that should by all accounts have a possibility of coexistence, but a much deeper conflict.” He said the conflict was not merely a geopolitical one, but a conflict between systems of values and civilisations. Vucic said after welcoming the patriarch and Serbian Orthodox Church archbishops: “In the autumn, in September and October, Serbs will need unity more than ever before because great temptations and the most difficult times since 1945 are ahead. Right now, Serbia is the only country in Europe that has not imposed sanctions on Russia and that is why we are under enormous pressure, and that is giving us problems that are not small and will grow. We will inform you of all decisions. We will do everything to ensure all decisions we make are in line with the interest of Serbia and the citizens, and we will preserve peace and our own moral values, though this will not be easy to do.”

Belgrade in collapse: “A special war is being waged against Serbia”
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Belgrade in collapse: “A special war is being waged against Serbia”
Tanjug, May 16 2022

All false reports about the planted bombs were sent from servers abroad, the media report. It is a Proton e-mail service, according to the media, and they add that it is very difficult to track down the senders of these e-mails. It should be reminded that after threatening reports of an explosion in Belgrade’s primary schools, a new threat arrived. Bombs were planted on bridges in Belgrade, in shopping malls, a zoo, restaurants, and a train station. The threatening message reads: “We placed explosives at the following locations: Branko’s Bridge, Gazela Bridge, New Railway Bridge, Ada Bridge, Pancevo Bridge, National Museum, Delta City, Zmaj Shopping Center, Ada Mall, Stadion Shopping Center, Konjarnik Shopping Center, Belgrade Zoo, Public Aquarium and Tropicarium, McDonald’s Bežanijska kosa (Partisan Aviation, Belgrade), Eurodom Belgrade Airport, Belgrade Central Station, President’s House, City Council, Every power plant, Every water treatment plant, Russian Embassy Belgrade.” On that occasion, the Deputy Mayor of Belgrade, Goran Vesić, also spoke. “We have just received an anonymous report that bombs have been planted in all production plants of the Belgrade Waterworks,” Deputy Mayor Goran Vesić told Novosti. Just to reiterate, in 21 primary schools, before the beginning of the afternoon shift, a report of bomb threats arrived. The e-mail with the notification was sent from the same address as this morning, when the same message arrived in 97 primary schools, reports Blic. We remind you that this morning an e-mail arrived in 97 Belgrade primary and secondary schools warning that a bomb had been planted. Due to reports, classes in the afternoon shift in most schools have been cancelled, and classes will be held online. After school, a report of a bomb arrived at the Stadion shopping center. Intensive work is underway to identify the perpetrators of criminal acts related to false reports of bombs that arrive every day at a large number of addresses in Belgrade and other cities throughout Serbia.

Internal Affairs Minister Aleksandar Vulin said on Monday that the bomb threats in cities across Serbia are a form of “special warfare” intended to prevent Belgrade from conducting independent policies and force it to take decision under pressure. Vulin said in a press release: “A special war is being waged against Serbia. Threats are being sent from different addresses in several European states to institutions, media houses, companies. The attacks on our country have not been launched nor are they being waged by an individual. These are mass, organized and very expensive hacker attacks from different hybrid warfare centers. The equipment needed to launch the kind of attack launched on Monday costs more than €100k and the damages inflicted run into the millions. The equipment is destroyed right after the attack to prevent investigators from determining the location from where it was launched. The claims of explosive devices are intended to cause panic and inflict damage on our country’s economy but the fundamental goal of all attacks is to prevent Serbia from conducting independent policies and force it to take decisions out of fear and under pressure. A special war is being waged against Serbia and we have to be ready.”

Japan lectures China on its Ukraine position
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 18 2022

Japan urges China to play “responsible role” for peace
Kyodo News, May 18 2022

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday he hopes Beijing will play a “responsible role” in ensuring peace and security as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues. China, which has close ties with Russia, has refrained from condemning Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine that started more than two months ago. Western nations are ramping up pressure and sanctions on Russia to end the military aggression. Hayashi was quoted by the ministry as telling Wang: “The international community faces big challenges. It is necessary to communicate closely and make efforts toward building constructive and stable relations.” Russia’s onslaught has been strongly condemned by Japan and other nations as an instance of unilateral use of force to change the status quo in violation of international law. The war has also raised alarm about its possible implications for the Indo-Pacific region. During his talks with Wang, Hayashi underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and expressed “serious concern” about the situations in the East and South China seas, according to the ministry. Highlighting Japan’s sense of concern, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said the security of Europe and Asia are not separable and that what happened in Ukraine could also occur in East Asia.

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