rick rozoff

Biden praises Azeri strongman for cooperation with “energy diversification and international security”
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

US President Biden sends letter to President Ilham Aliyev
Trend News Agency, May 20, 2022

Biden sent a congratulatory letter to President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on May 20. He wrote: “Dear Mr President, On behalf of the American people, I congratulate you and the people of Azerbaijan on your Independence Day. Our cooperation on energy diversification and international security over the last three decades is bearing fruit at a critical moment in history, and Azerbaijan is playing a key role in helping secure and stabilize European and global markets. Azerbaijan’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty is sending an important message. During this period of global instability, as Russia’s war on Ukraine seeks to erode the core pillars of international security, the US reaffirms its support for Azerbaijan’s independence and sovereignty. We look forward to enhancing our relationship in the years and decades to come.”

Somalia: Turkey’s military gateway to Africa
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

Relations with Turkiye to thrive under new Somali president, say experts
Anadolu, May 20 2022

As Somalia’s longstanding political standoff ended with members of both houses of parliament that elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud the country’s president for the next four years, analysts are debating the direction of his foreign policy. Somalia’s foreign policy had changed under outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, as his tenure witnessed disputes between Somalia and Kenya due to Nairobi’s alleged involvement in Somalia’s internal affairs. There were also accusations against the UAE for allegedly instigating political chaos in the country. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Abdi Wali Garad, a teaching associate at Birmingham University, expects the continuation of a good relationship with Turkiye. He said: “I’m saying this because of historical references; both in the past and present histories. Somalia is the gateway to Africa. It has substantial resources and occupies a strategic location. Turkiye is pursuing its interests in Somalia. Yet Turkiye’s interests are the only ones that do not contradict Somalia’s hope of returning to the world stage.” Abdirisak Aden, executive director of Farsight Africa Research and Policy Studies, who served as senior adviser to former Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, told Anadolu Agency: “Turkiye’s support for Somalia since President Erdogan’s visit to the country is viewed as support from an honest, brotherly nation in times of need for the Somali people. Somalia and Turkiye will probably deepen their economic and security relationship during this upcoming administration.” Mukhtar Ainashe, a political analyst and former national security adviser, told Anadolu Agency: “Turkiye is also helping Somalia rebuild a professional military by training its officers and soldiers, besides supplying substantial amounts of military equipment. It’s important to remember that Somalia is still under a UN arms embargo, so one could argue that Turkiye is willing to do more for Somalia in the defense sector, but the arms embargo is preventing that from happening. There are thousands of Somali students pursuing all sorts of undergraduate and graduate-level degrees at Turkish universities.”

Japan’s DM wants meeting with ASEAN counterparts contra Russia, China
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

Japan eyes defense minister talks with ASEAN in June in Cambodia
Kyodo News, May 20 2022

Japan is considering holding a meeting of defense ministers with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in late June in Cambodia as part of efforts to counter China’s growing maritime assertiveness, government sources said Friday. With the envisaged talks, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi will highlight the importance of maintaining a maritime order based on the rule of law, according to the sources. Kishi will likely oppose any attempt to “unilaterally alter the status quo by force” at the gathering, the sources said, in the wording often employed by Japan to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a veiled criticism against China’s intensifying military activities. The meeting would take place on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Cambodia, this year’s chair of the 10-member bloc, the sources said. Japan and ASEAN last held an in-person meeting of defense chiefs in Nov 2019. They had a teleconference in Dec 2020. ASEAN also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Eastern front: Japanese-Russian relations continue to deteriorate
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

Ex-residents on Russian-held islets may need visas for grave visits
Kyodo News, May 20 2022

Former Japanese residents on the Russian-controlled, Japan-claimed islands off Hokkaido may be required to obtain visas in future travel to the islets when they visit their families’ graves there, a senior official at Russia’s foreign ministry has said. The possible change in the existing program, which allows them to travel to the islands without visas for that purpose, comes as tensions mount between the two countries over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Japanese government is unlikely to accept such a change as it means admitting Russia’s sovereignty over the islets. The visa-free visits have long been allowed through a special arrangement between the two countries although they were canceled the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Russia said in March it will suspend negotiations, including on the territorial dispute, for a postwar peace treaty with Japan after Tokyo joined the United States and Europe in condemning the invasion of Ukraine. On peace treaty talks, Nozdrev added that Russia cannot engage in negotiations with a country that “overtly poses a threat to our country.” The islands are called the Northern Territories by Japan and the Southern Kurils by Russia.

Obedient NATO partner: “Ireland has been helping Ukraine since the early days of the war”
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

President Zelensky meets with Chairpersons of both Houses of the Irish Parliament
UkrInform, May 20 2022

Zelensky has met with Chairperson of the Upper House of the Irish Parliament Mark Daly and Chairperson of the Lower House of the Irish Parliament Seán Ó Fearghaíl, and expressed gratitude to Ireland for their support. “Ireland has been helping Ukraine since the early days of the war. I am grateful to Chairperson of the Upper House of the Irish Parliament Mark Daly and Chairperson of the Lower House of the Irish Parliament Seán Ó Fearghaíl for their visit and support for the sovereignty of our state! It is important to stay united and continue fighting against tyranny together,” Zelensky wrote.

NATO chieftain touts new global reset
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

NATO Sec-Gen to Allied Defence Chiefs: ‘Reset’ our posture to reflect new reality in Europe
NATO, May 19 2022

Stoltenberg addressed the Allied defence chiefs on Thursday (May 19 2022), at the start of the one-day Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence session. He outlined the changed security environment due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, describing it as “crucial and dangerous time for Euro-Atlantic security.” President Putin is failing in his strategic objectives, the Secretary General said, “Ukraine stands, NATO remains strong, and transatlantic unity is solid.” Stoltenberg thanked the thirty Chiefs of Defence defend every inch of NATO territory against threats from any direction. “It is important that we sustain our efforts and ‘reset’ our posture for the longer term”, he said, adding that “resetting does not mean starting from scratch. We will build on our ongoing adaptation” since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Secretary General also thanked the defence chiefs for their input to NATO’s next Strategic Concept, which will be adopted by Alliance leaders at the Madrid Summit in June. The 2022 Concept “will drive the future adaptation of our Alliance, so that we are better prepared for an era of strategic competition and rising security threats,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Asia-Pacific 4 attend NATO war council
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

SACEUR attends Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session
SHAPE, May 20 2022

SACEUR General Tod D Wolters attended the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session at NATO HQs in Brussels, Belgium May 19 2022. The overall focus of the meeting was collective defence. Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee, set the stage for the day, “In the past few months, NATO has shown that is it capable to swiftly and effectively change its posture. We have implemented the largest reinforcement of collective defence in a generation. The foundation for that adaptation came from work that the Military Committee started a few years ago, in close cooperation with the SACEUR and the SACTRANS.” Stoltenberg also joined the Chiefs of Defence during the first session to address the geostrategic context and preparations for the Madrid Summit in June. The second session focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine, with the Chiefs of Defence from NATO Partner Nations Finland, Sweden and Ukraine joining the discussions. The Chiefs of Defence also met with NATO’s Asia-Pacific Partners Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea, to discuss regional developments. The final session, briefed by SACTRANS General Philippe Lavigne, focused on NATO’s Warfighting Capstone Concept and the ongoing digital transformation of the Alliance. General Wolters highlighted Allied support to Ukraine and the defense of the Alliance. Wolters said. “With respect to the defense of the alliance, we’ve responded in all domains, in all regions, to shield all allies. We’ve deployed elements of the NATO Response Force to strengthen our forward defense. There are now eight battle groups under NATO command deployed along the eastern flank. There are now over 42k troops and 120 jets on high alert, with more than 20 ships ready to respond. Our land domain has seen a 10-fold increase, the air domain a 50% increase of fighters patrolling the skies.”

Zaluzhny takes part in meeting of NATO Military Committee at commanders-in-Chief level
Interfax Ukraine, May 20 2022

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhny, at the invitation of head of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, took part in a meeting of the NATO Military Committee at the level of commanders-in-Chief (Chiefs of Staff) in the format with Ukraine. “I noted that our people are paying an extremely high price for freedom and European choice, and Europe is experiencing the biggest security crisis since WW2. I repeated my words at a meeting of the NATO Military Committee in January last year. The war since 2014 has become a real war for us, Ukrainians. Not ATO, not the JFO, but the war.”

Vangelis: rest in peace
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

From Polonaise by Vangelis and Jon Anderson:

There is strength in the common people
For the people is all we really are
Young and old, the wisest and the lowly
Each indeed is Holy in the Light of Love
When the Word comes
I will be waiting
Like the dove that shines he prays for peace
Some have waited what seems a lifetime
Some are waiting now to be released…

Georgia State Dept delegation meets with defense chief, war party, “civil society organizations”
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

The United National Movement, founded by Georgian-born, US-educated, still-current Ukrainian government official Mikheil Saakashvili, has been clamoring for the nation to open a second front against Russia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as sharpening their knives for a reprise of the Western-backed coup that brought Saakashvili to power in 2003. As the full article more than amply demonstrates, “Euro-Atlantic integration” entails acceding to harsh and unrelenting diktat from the US and Brussels regarding most every aspect of life in a nation: the judiciary, electoral processes, government “transparency,” transformation of the entire defense and security sectors into NATO-interoperable appendages of the Pentagon and NATO, the educational system from kindergarten to graduate school, the press and other news media, (formerly) national culture and popular entertainment, religion, social mores, etc. See the feature that follows, particularly: “Perhaps, some Georgian mother shed Ian Kelly’s [former US ambassador to Georgia still involved in agitating for regime change there] weight in tears [somewhere], weeping quietly for her children sent to various battles in defense of [Georgia’s] European and western choice,” [Vice Prime] Minister Tsulukiani claimed.

US Official Meets Georgian PM, Opposition, CSO Leaders
Civil Georgia, May 19 2022

US State Dept Counselor Derek Chollet, who arrived in Georgia yesterday for a two-day visit, met today with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze, as well as members of the opposition, and civil society representatives. During the meeting with PM Garibashvili, the parties discussed the strategic partnership, Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, and regional security in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Significance and strengthening of democratic institutions on the path of European and Euro-Atlantic integration were highlighted at the meeting,” said the Georgian Government’s press release. On his part, Counselor Chollet said “we welcome Georgia’s active support in multilateral efforts to call out Russian aggression and to support the people of Ukraine.” The meeting was attended by US Ambassador Kelly Degnan, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the USAID Mark Simakovsky, US DoD Official Jason Ham (Balkans, Caucasus and Black Sea Region), and Florence Akinyemi, Special Adviser to Derek Chollet. Head of the Georgian Government Administration Revaz Javelidze was also in attendance. Derek Chollet also had the opportunity to meet with Defense Minister Burchuladze. Per Georgian Defense Ministry, the parties discussed further deepening of strategic partnership in the defense and security sphere.

Counselor Chollet met with opposition leaders, including Chair of the United National Movement Nika Melia, his party colleague MP Khatia Dekanoidze, MP Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Aghmashenebeli, Lelo MP Ana Natsvlishvil, MP Khatuna Samnidze of the Republican Party, Girchi-More Freedom leader Zurab Japaridze, For Georgia’s Natia Mezvrishvili and Elene Khoshtaria of Droa party. Nika Melia, UNM Chair, told reporters after the meeting: “I do not doubt concrete steps, concrete actions will be taken from their side.” Natia Mezvrishvili from For Georgia said they asked “our strategic partners not to leave the Georgian people alone, the Georgian population supports the Euro-integration process.” Earlier in the morning, Counselor Chollet met with civil society leaders to discuss the judiciary and key reforms in Georgia. Nika Simonishvili, Chairman of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association told reporters after the meeting that the US was particularly interested in how the judiciary is run in the country. “He expressed particular interest [in the alleged] existence of Russian influence in the country from different groups,” Simonishvili emphasized.

Ahead of his arrival, Counselor Chollet published an opinion piece that touched on the 30-year partnership between the US and Georgia, Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and the occupation of Georgian regions, and the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. The article said: “We appreciate the people of Georgia’s vocal support for their Ukrainian neighbors, as well as Georgia’s provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Yet, there is more we all can and should do. Just as Georgian soldiers have exhibited leadership, bravery, and sacrifice for the common good, we have also seen civil society in Georgia passionately and fearlessly advocate for the steps required to achieve a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and Euro-Atlantic future.” Taking note of the Georgian government’s pledge to make important electoral and judicial reforms, he said “these must be fulfilled if Georgia is to achieve its full potential.”

Georgian Vice PM Lambasts ‘Natsi’ MEPs, Former US Envoy
Civil Georgia, May 19 2022

Georgia’s Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Culture Tea Tsulukiani has slammed several respected international Georgia-watchers, including MEPs Viola von Cramon-Taubadel and Anna Fotyga, and former US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly as “foreign Natsis” (a derogatory term by Georgian Dream to designate the United National Movement members and supporters) wishing to overturn the GD government. Minister Tsulukiani noted: “This is a small group of foreigners, among them I mean for instance German politician Ms Viola von Cramon, who almost turned into a Georgian politician. It seems she is no longer having as much business in her constituency and is directly interfering in Georgian politics, wagging her accusing finger now at someone, now at someone else, thinking she has the right to do so. I am sure she does not care much neither about Georgia nor for the Georgian people, because give backing to her friends, she is ready to openly insult a Georgian deputy, the government.” MEP von Cramon has been a vocal proponent of the UNM during its stint in power. The long-serving Georgian Dream Minister also criticized Anna Fotyga, Polish MEP, saying when confronted by the government, MEP Fotyga would defend herself by saying “I love Georgia.”

The Culture Minister also lambasted former US Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly. Minister Tsulukiani claimed: “I remember too well how much he did not love Georgia. Perhaps, some Georgian mother shed Ian Kelly’s weight in tears [somewhere], weeping quietly for her children sent to various battles in defense of [Georgia’s] European and western choice. He is not shying away from insulting the Georgian nation and its government daily, or multiple times a day, and from wagging his accusing finger at us as if we were pre-school pupils.” She said “we should jointly stop and eradicate” such behavior. She argued the state should have been firmer with this “small group of foreigners,” saying: “You know what? This is an independent state! We have shed blood in this statehood from the times of our fathers and forefathers, starting with little girls and ending with big men, and could you please calm down a little because you are speaking to the sovereign state. These people are driven by narrow, partisan interest together with Natsis to overturn this government because they don’t consider you as their friends.”

Ruling party MP: opposition working against Georgia, not against Georgian Government
Agenda.ge, May 20 2022

The Georgian opposition think they are working against the Government, but in reality they are acting against the country itself, Nikoloz Samkharadze, the ruling Georgian Dream party MP who chairs the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Friday in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster. The comment by Samkharadze followed a statement by Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party, who accused representatives of the opposition of advocating against the European Union granting a candidate status to Georgia. Samkharadze also noted the political opposition’s “disinformation campaign damages the image of the country,” adding the parties “ask for sanctions against Georgia” in meetings with foreign partners, with their allegations of the ruling party helping Russia on the backdrop of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. The Georgian MP added opposition presented the Georgian Dream party as an “obstacle” to Georgia’s European integration, criticising the parties for claiming Georgia would not be able to become a member of the EU if the Government did not step down.

Turkey continues shakedown operation over Finland’s, Sweden’s NATO accession
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, May 20 2022

Turkey has demanded NATO support if not join its war against Kurds in Iraq and Syria (and in Turkey itself) for years. The Ankara regime makes much of the fact that it is the only NATO member state which borders Iraq, Iran and Syria as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in the South Caucasus, in return for which it has exacted numerous concessions from the military bloc including the activation of NATO’s Article Four and deployment of anti-missile batteries four times.

Erdoğan to speak to Finland, NATO allies to address Turkey’s concerns
Daily Sabah, May 20 2022

Erdoğan said Friday that he is engaged in “telephone diplomacy” with foreign counterparts over Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO. He reiterated that Turkey is adamant that it will not approve the candidacy of countries accused by Ankara of supporting “terror organizations.” Erdoğan has placed an obstacle to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. He accuses Stockholm, and to a lesser extent Helsinki, of supporting the PKK and other groups that Ankara views as terrorists and a threat to national security. Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, also accuses the two Nordic countries of imposing restrictions on exports of defense industry equipment to Turkey and of failing to extradite suspects wanted by Turkish authorities. Sweden and Finland formally applied to join the military alliance this week. All 30 NATO members need to approve the entry of new members.

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