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rick rozoff

Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia to hold joint military exercise
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 27 2022

Azerbaijan, Turkiye, Georgia to hold joint exercise
Azeri Press Agency, Jun 27 2022

‘Eternity-2022″ exercises will be held on Oct 17-28 with participation of Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian servicemen, APA reports citing Turkish National Defense Ministry. It has been noted that the first planning meeting for the exercise has been held in Turkiye. The meeting has been attended by Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Georgian representatives.

NATO to increase rapid reaction force from 40k to 300k troops
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 27 2022

NATO to boost reaction force, Ukraine support
AP, Jun 27 2022

Stoltenberg said Monday that the military alliance will increase the size of its rapid reaction forces nearly eightfold to 300k troops as part of its response to an “era of strategic competition.” The NATO response force currently has about 40,000 soldiers which can deploy quickly when needed. Coupled with other measures including the deployment of forces to defend specific allies, Stoltenberg said the move is part of the “biggest overhaul of collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War.” Stoltenberg made the remarks at a press conference ahead of a NATO summit later this week in Madrid when the 30 allies are expected to also agree on further support to Ukraine in its war against Russia. Stoltenberg said he expects allies to make clear they consider Russia “as the most significant and direct threat to our security.”

NATO to add Finland, Sweden, prepare Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 27 2022

Sec-Gen: NATO to agree “fundamental shift” in defence posture
NATO, Jun 27 2022

Stoltenberg on Monday said NATO leaders meeting in Madrid this week are set to sign off on key decisions, including a new Strategic Concept, a major strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defence and greater support to Ukraine. Speaking in Brussels ahead of the Summit which begins on Tuesday, he said NATO leaders will also focus on investing in defence, aim to make progress on Finland and Sweden’s historic applications for NATO membership and deepen cooperation with Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Georgia grooming Bosnia, Georgia, Moldova for bloc inclusion
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 27 2022

NATO Sec Gen says Summit will adopt “new packages of support” for partners including Georgia
Agenda.ge, Jun 27 2022

Stoltenberg on Monday said the alliance would adopt new packages of support for Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Moldova at its Summit that is set to launch on Tuesday in Madrid. Georgia and the EU will also take part and we will adopt new packages of support for our partners Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Republic of Moldova,” Stoltenberg said at a press briefing. The Government head (PM Irakli Garibashvili) received an official letter of invitation to the Summit from Stoltenberg a week ago. In the invitation letter, the NATO official said he would welcome the Georgian PM to a special meeting involving heads of states with NATO partners.

“People’s Bayraktar”: Turkey to donate combat drones to Ukrainian military
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 27 2022

Baykar Makina to donate three drones to Ukraine
UkrInform, Jun 27 2022

Turkey’s Baykar Makina, the producer of Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, has said that it will donate three drones to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, for which Ukrainian raised funds as part of the People’s Bayraktar project by showman Sergei Prytula. The company asked that the raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine. The statement reads: “Baykar has been informed that a crowdfunding campaign called ‘The People’s Bayraktar’ was successful in raising funds to buy several Bayraktar TB2 UAVs for Ukrainians to use in defense of their homeland. Baykar will not accept payment for the TB2s, and will send three UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front. We are touched by their solidarity and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.”

wsws

NATO announces plan for massive European land army
Andre Damon, WSWS, Jun 28 2022

In what Stoltenberg called the “biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defense since the Cold War,” the US-led NATO alliance has announced plans to build a massive standing land army in Europe, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Stoltenberg said NATO would increase its “high readiness forces” sevenfold, from 40k to 300k, deploying tens of thousands of additional troops, as well as countless tanks and aircraft, directly to Russia’s border. The move will entail a massive diversion of social resources to NATO’s ongoing war with Russia and planned war with China, draining treasuries throughout Europe and North America and fueling demands for the elimination of social services, the slashing of wages, and the gutting of workers’ pensions. Stoltenberg said the creation of this massive fighting force was a response to the “new era of strategic competition” with Russia and China. He called the plan “a fundamental shift in NATO’s deterrence and defense,” embracing not only the war with Russia, but “the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests and values.”

As a part of this massive expansion of its fighting force, NATO will increase the numbers of troops stationed in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to the “brigade” level, meaning approximately 3k to 5k troops. The Financial Times reported, based on an interview with Stoltenberg, that the plan will “include new structures in which Western NATO allies, such as the US, UK and France, would pledge their ships, warplanes and a total of more than 300k troops to be ready to deploy to specific territories on the alliance’s eastern flank, with graded response times starting from the opening hours of any attack.” Instead of troops deployed to the Baltics serving as a “tripwire,” the new plan would envision NATO fighting a war against Russia directly on the borders of these countries on NATO’s eastern battlefront. Stoltenberg boasted:

2022 will be the eighth consecutive year of increases across European Allies and Canada,” adding that NATO’s target of two percent of economic output going to military spending will be “considered a floor, not a ceiling.

That same day, US officials previewed yet another massive weapons shipment to Ukraine, including the NASAMS medium-to-long-range surface-to-air missile defense system created by Raytheon. In addition to “advanced medium- and long-range air defense capabilities for the Ukrainians,” the US would also provide “ammunition for artillery and counter battery radar systems,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said. Members of the NATO alliance, meanwhile, are openly using the language of war. In his first public speech as the Chief of the General Staff, according to the Telegraph, General ‘Sir’ Patrick Sanders will declare that the UK army must be ready to “fight and win” against Russia.

Simultaneously, the US and its allies are intensifying the economic embargo against Russia. Over the weekend, participants in the G7 summit announced plans to ban the imports of gold from Russia, and are finalizing plans to try to put price caps on oil and gas sold by Russia. On Monday, Russia officially defaulted on its foreign debt payments, after European payment clearing-houses refused to process payments from the country. Russian officials insist that they have the funds available to make the payments, but that it has been effectively cut out from the European financial system and hence forced to carry out an artificial default. Regardless, this would be the first time Russia has defaulted on its debts since 1918, when the Bolshevik government, in the wake of the 1917 revolution, repudiated the foreign debts of the Tsarist regime.

NATO’s massive military escalation comes as the official position of the US and NATO, that they are not at war with Russia, becomes increasingly untenable. This weekend, the NYT reported that US forces are secretly operating on the ground in Ukraine, as well as forces from several other NATO countries, despite the denials of Biden and other NATO leaders. The NYT wrote:

But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some CIA personnel have continued to operate in the country … directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the US is sharing with Ukrainian forces.

The newspaper reported that dozens of special forces from the UK, Canada, France and Lithuania have been operating inside the country. The revelations, the report continued, “hints at the scale of the secretive effort to assist Ukraine that is underway and the risks that Washington and its allies are taking.” The NYT report is only the latest piece of evidence documenting the extent of US involvement in the war. Earlier this year, NBC and other publications reported that the US was directly involved in Ukrainian targeted killings of Russian generals, as well as the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Ukrainian commanders are provided by intelligence extracted from satellites “which they can call up on tablet computers provided by the allies. The tablets run a battlefield mapping app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops.”

Despite the massive degree of US involvement in the war, Ukrainian losses are surging, rivaling the number of US combat deaths at the deadliest part of the Vietnam war. On some days, Ukrainian forces have suffered between 500 and 1000 daily casualties. Russia now controls more than 90% of the Donbass in East Ukraine and a total of one fifth of the entire territory of Ukraine. But despite the disastrous series of battlefield setbacks, the US and its NATO allies are massively intensifying their involvement in the war, no matter the cost in Ukrainian lives or the trillions of dollars diverted from vital social programs. Russian officials are drawing the conclusion that open war between NATO and Russia is all but inevitable. In remarks last week, Sergei Lavrov said:

Hitler rallied a significant part, if not most, of the European nations under his banner for a war against the Soviet Union … Now, the EU together with NATO are forming another—modern—coalition for a standoff and, ultimately, war with the Russian Federation.

The deadly logic of the spiraling conflict raises the prospect that the proxy war in Ukraine will rapidly metastasize across the European continent, triggering the deadliest global military conflict since WW2. This reality makes clear the urgent necessity for the working class to intervene in the crisis, aiming to unite the struggles against the surging cost of living and attacks on democratic rights with the struggle against war.

NATO summit to embrace US-led confrontation with China
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Jun 28 2022

Stoltenberg speaks after a virtual meeting of NATO defense ministers
at NATO HQ in Brussels, Feb 18, 2021. (Photo: Virginia Mayo/AP)

Amid the US-led proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, a major focus of the NATO summit beginning today in Madrid will be the extension of the Atlantic military alliance to the Asia-Pacific, directed against China. NATO’s agenda derives directly from Washington’s rapidly intensifying and aggressive confrontation with Beijing, which the US regards as the chief threat to its global dominance. During a press conference yesterday, Stoltenberg declared that the summit would directly address China for the first time, and “the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests, and values.” He said NATO members would “consider our response to Russia and China’s increasing influence in our southern neighbourhood,” that is, the Indo-Pacific region, on the other side of the globe, thousands of kilometres from the nearest NATO member.

While Stoltenberg’s language was guarded, what is proposed is an extraordinary expansion of NATO’s scope across the entire world, making clear that the escalating US-NATO proxy war against Russia is not a limited, episodic conflict in Europe, but global in character. The massive expansion of NATO military forces slated to be discussed at the summit is not just directed against Russia, but China as well. In preparation for the summit, Stoltenberg flew to the US in early June to hold talks with both Blinken and Austin. Not surprisingly, he is parroting Washington’s propaganda. Even as basic democratic rights are being eviscerated in the US and Europe, in a media forum hosted by Politico last week, Stoltenberg painted the conflict with Russia and China as a rising competition “between democracy and authoritarianism,” adding:

Moscow and Beijing are openly contesting the rules-based international order.

In reality, the US is seeking to preserve the post-WW2 order, in which it set the rules, through military means. Like Washington, the NATO chief told the forum:

I am concerned at the rise of China, the fact that they’re investing heavily in new modern military equipment, including scaling significantly their nuclear capabilities, investing in key technologies, and trying also to control critical infrastructure in Europe coming closer to us.

The NATO summit will revise its Strategic Concept, which has been in place since 2010 and makes no mention of China. The new document, in line with the Pentagon’s strategic orientation, will be focussed not only on the “war on terrorism” but, as NATO deputy secretary general Mircea Geoană told a conference in Copenhagen on Jun 10, on great power competition against Russia and China. Significantly, the leaders of ‘the Asia-Pacific four’ (Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea) will attend the NATO summit for the first time. Australia, Japan and South Korea are all formal US military allies, while Australia and Japan are part of the ‘Quad’ that is targeting China (along with the US and India).

Recently-installed Australian Labor Party prime minister Anthony Albanese reiterated his government’s support for the NATO proxy war immediately on landing in Madrid, and expressed concern about China “becoming increasingly aggressive” and its “closeness” to Russia. He said Australia would welcome increased military cooperation with other members of the Asia-Pacific Four’ (New Zealand, Japan, South Korea). A meeting has been mooted of the leaders of those four countries on the sidelines of the summit. Since being sworn in last month, the Australian Labor government has been engaged in frenetic diplomatic activity in the Asia-Pacific—including taking part in a Quad leaders meeting in Tokyo while barely in office, and despatching Foreign Minister Penny Wong to Pacific Island states in a bid to counter Chinese influence in the region. The new government has fully endorsed the AUKUS pact with the US and Britain, aimed against China, that will arm Australia with nuclear-powered attack submarines.

On Sunday, speaking at the G7 leaders meeting, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida made a thinly-veiled swipe at China. He declared that a united front was necessary to prevent other countries drawing the “wrong lessons” from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Japan has joined the US and other allies in accusing China of preparing to invade Taiwan as the pretext for strengthening ties with the island which all nominally accept, under the One China policy, is part of China. Beijing is deeply concerned at aggressive US-led efforts to build military alliances, strategic partnerships and basing arrangements throughout the Indo-Pacific in conjunction with NATO. Speaking at the summit last week of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a rejection of “Cold War mentality” and warned against the type of crippling unilateral sanctions imposed by the US and allies on Russia. Last Thursday, Chinese foreign affairs ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin explicitly accused NATO of engaging in a “highly dangerous” effort to create hostile blocs in Asia. he said:

NATO has already disrupted stability in Europe. It should not try to do the same to the Asia-Pacific and the whole world.

The shift by NATO toward a confrontation with China as well as Russia is bound up with the sharp escalation in geo-political tensions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic and financial instability. Previously the European powers sought to balance their economic ties with China with their military alliance with the US. Now they have joined in the US-led war against Russia in Ukraine, while also preparing to play a far greater military role in the Indo-Pacific. In 2019, China was referenced for the first time in a NATO summit in a sentence declaring that Beijing presented “both opportunities and challenges.” In 2021, however, a joint NATO communique adopted a sharply different approach, accusing China of “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.” Last year Britain joined the AUKUS alliance and has begun the deployment of warships to the South China Sea off the Chinese mainland. France and Germany also have despatched warships through these sensitive strategic waters. The NATO summit marks a sharp turning point in the accelerating proxy war with Russia, and the involvement of the US military allies in Europe in Washington’s aggressive confrontation with China—posing the very real danger of a global war between nuclear-armed powers.

At least 46 undocumented immigrants found dead in truck trailer in sweltering Texas heat
Eric London, WSWS, Jun 28 2022

Police block the scene in San Antonio, Jun 27 2022 (Photo: Eric Gay/AP)

Hardly a day goes by in contemporary America without a mass casualty event produced by capitalist reaction. On Monday evening, a semi-truck trailer filled with bodies, some dead and some still clinging to life, was discovered a stone’s throw from a busy interstate highway in San Antonio, Texas. The truck was carrying undocumented immigrants fleeing desperate economic conditions in Central America and the legacy of over a century of US imperialist exploitation. The immigrants were forced to enter surreptitiously due to the anti-immigrant restrictions imposed by the Biden administration. So far, the official death toll is 46, but this is expected to rise, as local officials say 16 others were hospitalized at varying stages of illness. This is the deadliest such event in US history. It doubles the death toll of the second highest mass immigrant asphyxiation, when 19 people suffocated in a truck trailer in Victoria, Texas, in 2003. Earlier Monday, temperatures in San Antonio hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). It is difficult to imagine how those who perished in the trailer spent their last moments struggling to escape. One individual who lives near the spot where the trailer was found told the NYT:

Now I’m hearing there are kids.

This social crime is the responsibility of the Biden administration, which has carried out a ruthless attack on immigrants, arresting more in 2021 than Trump detained in any one year in office. Biden is on pace to arrest some 2m immigrants this year, a new record. Two days ago, Biden ended all previous restrictions on ICE arrests, ordering agents to arrest immigrants regardless of arrest record or how many years they have been in the US. It is already clear that the political establishment in the US will respond to the mass death in San Antonio by using the event to justify a further crackdown on immigration. An hour before the bodies were discovered in his district, Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales tweeted that immigration is “incentivizing lawlessness and creating absolute chaos at our southern border.” After the event, Gonzales blamed Democrats for being insufficiently iron fisted. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a fascist supporter of Trump, blamed Biden for the deaths, tweeting:

They are a result of his deadly open border policies. They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.

The corporate media will alternate between demands for a military-style crackdown on the border and denunciations of whichever criminal was driving and abandoned the trailer in the heat. But the existence of smugglers is a criminal byproduct of the bipartisan border policies of the US government which are fundamentally to blame. Deaths like these did not occur prior to the militarization of the US-Mexico border initiated by Clinton 42. In the 1990s, with bipartisan support, Clinton enacted programs like “Operation Gatekeeper” and “Operation Hold-the-Line,” the aim of which was to militarize urban crossing zones and force migrants to cross in the uninhabitable deserts. In 2006, under the Bush 43 administration, Congress passed the Secure Fences Act, which facilitated the construction of hundreds of miles of border barriers and further militarized the border. Those voting “yes” for this law included then-Sens Biden, Clinton (Hillary), Obama, McCain and Schumer. In 2010, Obama signed legislation that deployed a fleet of drones to the border and 1,500 National Guard soldiers to block or arrest immigrants. In 2018, the Democratic Party caved when Trump 44 illegally redirected congressionally-apportioned money to fund his deployment of the National Guard to the border. The Biden 45 administration kept pandemic-related restrictions on all asylum applicants and maintained Trump’s Remain In Mexico policy, which barred all refugees from entering the US through Mexico. The trailer was discovered in southwest San Antonio, barely a mile from where nine immigrants were found dead of dehydration and asphyxiation in the back of a semi-truck trailer almost exactly five years ago, on Jul 17 2017. At that time, the WSWS wrote:

The world is pulsing with people who are forced to flee their homes under the weight of decades of economic exploitation and war. According to a UN report from 2015, there are 65.3m refugees in the world, more than the population of the UK, France or Italy. The refugee crisis is the product of the capitalist system and requires a socialist solution. Never in history has the contradiction between the ease with which capital flows across borders and the difficulty with which human beings flee across national boundaries been so acute. As the world economy becomes increasingly interconnected through the advent of the Internet, mobile phones and integrated global supply lines, the ruling classes of the so-called democratic countries are increasingly protecting themselves, as Leon Trotsky put it, “by a customs wall and a hedge of bayonets.” Socialists reject attempts to reconcile “left-wing” slogans with nationalist poison. Figures like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Bernie Sanders in the US expose their pro-capitalist outlook when they talk about “reasonable management of migration” (Corbyn’s Labour Party manifesto) and denounce open borders as a “right-wing proposal” that “would make everybody in America poorer” (Sanders’ interview with Vox, Jul 18 2015). Socialists oppose the division of the world into nation-states and call for bringing the geographical organization of the world into harmony with the international character of the global economy.

Massacre in Morocco: The ugly face of European imperialism
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Jun 28 2022

The savage killing of at least 37 refugees on the border between Morocco and the Spanish exclave of Melilla underscores the brutality and disregard of basic democratic rights that pervades the European Union. As the US-NATO war with Russia rapidly escalates into a global conflagration, and workers across the continent move into struggle against the unbearable cost of living and the ruling elite’s murderous pandemic policy, the major European powers are resurrecting forms of state-organised violence and political reaction not seen since Europe’s domination by authoritarian and fascist regimes during the 1930s. The barbaric massacre was carried out through the combined efforts of the Spanish Civil Guard and Moroccan gendarmerie on Friday. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) reported that the migrants came mostly from the impoverished African countries of Chad, Niger, South Sudan and Sudan and would have been considered asylum seekers under international law. In addition to at least 37 fatalities, over 150 people were injured during charges and beatings by the security forces or after falling from the 6m to 10m fences preventing entry into the Spanish exclave from Morocco.

The massacre was clearly coordinated by both countries, as the Civil Guard allowed Moroccan security forces into Melilla to illegally drive refugees who made it across the border back to Morocco. In the manner of a fascistic demagogue, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Socialist Party, declared his full support for the actions of the border guards, stating that they beat back a “violent assault” and an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain. The massacre could hardly have taken place at a more opportune time for the government in Madrid, which is led by the Socialist Party and includes the pseudo-left Podemos. At the NATO summit beginning today in the Spanish capital, the Spanish government will push for refugee border crossings to be designated as a “hybrid threat” alongside terrorism and food insecurity in the aggressive military alliance’s new strategic concept, which Madrid hopes will legitimise the expansion of its military operations in Africa.

NATO’s strategic roadmap for the next decade will include plans for how war will be fought by US and European imperialism against Russia and China. Leaving no doubt about this fact, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday that NATO’s rapid reaction force in the Baltic and Eastern Europe will increase eight-fold from 40k to over 300k troops. Such a vast escalation of military violence is incompatible with democratic rights. The bloody massacring of desperate migrants on the EU’s southern border must therefore be taken as a serious warning by working people everywhere. The unconditional defence of the fascistic border guards by the Spanish government demonstrates that as it wages war in the east, Europe’s ruling elites are deploying the most brutal forms of repression against anyone who gets in the way of their reckless plans of imperialist conquest. This was underscored by the deafening silence on the massacre at the G7 summit that concludes today in Schloss Elmau in Germany. While the leaders of the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan agreed on a sanctimonious statement pledging to “strengthen the resilience of our democracies” and commitment to the “rules-based international order,” not a word was wasted on the bloody massacre on Europe’s doorstep.

The cold indifference shown by the ruling elites of all the major powers towards the lives of the most oppressed sections of society recalls the contemptuous attitude taken by the imperialist powers on the eve of WW2 to the plight of Europe’s Jews and other persecuted minorities fleeing the Nazi regime. At the infamous 1938 Evian Conference, none of the major powers agreed to accept additional refugees for fear of damaging relations with the Third Reich, which was at the time still viewed by substantial sections of the European ruling class as an ally against the Soviet Union. It is not merely a matter of historical coincidence that Friday’s massacre occurred in Spain’s North African territory, from where a revolt by fascist officers in Jul 1936 led by Gen Francisco Franco served as the basis for the fascist movement that emerged victorious in the Spanish Civil War and ruthlessly oppressed the Spanish working class for four decades.

The EU’s official sanctioning of Friday’s massacre will encourage and strengthen present-day fascist movements across the continent, which are cultivated by the ruling class to crush worker opposition to their unpopular policies. The EU and its member states have systematically created the conditions for fascistic violence against workers and the most oppressed layers of society through the promotion of far-right political forces and the militarisation of the entire continent. Far-right and fascistic parties play a prominent role in the official political life of all the major European powers, while their militaries and security forces are rife with far-right networks. In Germany, these groups have drawn up kill lists of political opponents to be executed on “Day X,” while high-ranking military personnel in France and Spain openly discuss plans to seize power in coups.

The EU’s “fortress Europe” policy has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of refugees, who have drowned in the Mediterranean over the past three decades while trying to flee the social catastrophe produced by uninterrupted imperialist wars and the legacy of the colonial subjugation of Africa and the Middle East. Illegal “pushbacks,” where Europe’s fascistic Frontex border guards and their partners in the national security forces forcibly return migrants across the EU’s external borders before they have a chance to exercise their legal right to apply for asylum, are part of the EU’s standard operating procedure. European governments from across the official political spectrum have fully embraced the EU’s far-right policies towards refugees.

When large numbers of migrants fled the imperialist-instigated war in Syria in 2015, Greece’s pseudo-left Syriza government established a series of concentration camp-style facilities on islands in the Aegean Sea to detain asylum seekers. At the initiative of Italy’s far-right Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, the EU suspended all naval rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea in 2019, leaving thousands of people to drown. Finland’s Social Democrat-led government, which was hailed as a “progressive” breath of fresh air when it came to power in 2019, has followed up its application to join NATO by declaring its intention to begin constructing barriers along its 1,300-km border with Russia to guard against the potential for refugees to be used as “hybrid warfare” by Moscow. Helsinki is following in the footsteps of Poland’s right-wing PIS government, which illegally blocked refugees from crossing the border with Belarus last winter, leaving many to freeze to death in the forest.

The same governments who are engaged in abrogating the most basic democratic rights are in the front ranks of the imperialist war against Russia. Britain’s Tory government, which intends to dispatch asylum seekers to poverty-stricken Rwanda, has led the European powers in providing heavy weaponry to the Ukrainian regime. In Germany, the Social Democrat-led government, which maintains vicious anti-refugee policies adopted from the fascist Alternative for Germany, has tripled the country’s defence budget for this year as part of the largest rearmament programme since Hitler. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose government has brutally attacked migrant camps in Calais and Paris and systematically discriminates against the substantial Muslim minority, recently declared that the population must get used to living in a “war economy.” The Spanish government, which perpetrated Friday’s massacre, has sent 800 troops, Eurofighter jets and warships to Eastern Europe and plans to use the NATO summit to announce a doubling of Spain’s military budget to €24b.

Together with their US ally, which specialises in detaining child refugees in prison-like conditions and laying waste to entire societies in over 30 years of uninterrupted war, these are the governments that the media propagandists claim are waging a war for “democracy” and the “freedom” of Ukraine against “Russian aggression” and the “fascist” Putin. There is in fact nothing “democratic” about the imperialist redivision of the world that is now well underway. The hundreds of billions of euros that the leading European imperialist powers plan to spend on their war machines in order to subjugate Russia, seize control of its lucrative natural resources, and fend off competition from their imperialist rivals will have to be squeezed out of the working class through stepped up austerity and attacks on wages and working conditions.

Tobias Elwood, a leading member of British PM Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, denounced 50k rail workers on strike last week for job security and wage increases with inflation at over 11% as “Putin’s friends.” Spain’s Socialist Party/Podemos government banned a strike by Ryanair pilots and cabin crews over the weekend. In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier declared in the weeks following the presentation of the massive €100b rearmament programme that the population would have to make “sacrifices” to pay for the war. The defence of all democratic and social rights, including the right of working people to live in whichever country they please, is inseparable from the struggle of the international working class against imperialist war. In opposition to the threat of savage repression at home and the waging of war abroad, the WSWS calls for the building of an international anti-war movement in the working class to uphold democratic rights through the fight for socialism.

south front

Kiev Hopes To Retaliate On Another Front After The Loss Of Severodonetsk
SouthFront, Jun 27 2022

The main battlefield in Ukraine remains the Severodonetsk-Lisichansk metropolitan area. The city of Severodonetsk and the industrial zone of the Azot plant are under full control of the military of the Russian Federation and the Luhansk People’s Republic. On the city’s outskirts, Russian-led forces mopped up the towns of Voronovo and Sirotino. The Armed Forces of Ukraine were repelled from all their positions on the left bank of the Seversky Donets River. However, the advance of joint forces did not stop. The Russian military already launched the battle for Lisichansk. The city is currently blockaded from the eastern and southern directions. On the western outskirts, fighting reached the Lisichansk oil refinery, the Glass factory, the gelatin plant and the rubber production facilities.

On Jun 26, Russian units reportedly repelled the remaining Ukrainian forces from the town of Volcheyarovka on the south-western outskirts of Lisichansk. As a result Ukrainian units deployed in the Lisichansk oil refinery risk being cut off from the grouping in the city. Russian-allied forces have established military positions on the heights in the town of Volcheyarovka and now the Seversk-Lisichansk highway is under fire control of their artillery. The road was used by Ukrainian servicemen to move military supplies to their positions. The Ukrainian military has lost the possibility of withdrawing the remaining forces from Lisichansk. To the south, Ukrainian units deployed in the Gorskoe-Zolotoe area were trapped. Russian-led forces continue the mop up operation, destroying the last pockets of Ukrainian resistance. The town of Gorskoe is almost completely secured. Russian forces are demining the area; discovering caches of weapons left by Ukrainian servicemen in the houses of local civilians.

In other Ukrainian regions, the front lines remain more stable. The battle for the Island of Zmeiny is gaining momentum. The Russian Ministry of Defense revealed that the Ukrainian military had undertaken another attempt to hit Russian forces deployed on the island. The attack was thwarted by Russian Pantsir-S air defense systems. As a result, 1 Su-25 belonging to the Ukrainian Air Force and 12 rockets were destroyed. The Black Sea region risks facing a new round of escalation in the very near future. After Kiev’s forces received the US-made Harpoon missiles supplied by their Western allies, they increased their attacks on the infrastructure near the Crimean peninsula. Over the past week, Ukrainian forces struck drilling rigs located in the western shores of Crimea twice. As a result of the attacks, one of the rigs was destroyed and 7 people went missing. Taking into account the increased reconnaissance activity of the US and NATO aircraft over the Black Sea region in recent days, new provocations by the Armed Forces of Ukraine should be expected.

Russian Losses In The Black Sea Growing After Ukraine Got US-Made Harpoon Missiles
South Front, Jun 27 2022

On Jun 26, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) again fired at the platform of the the drilling rig of the Chernomorneftegaz enterprise in the Black Sea. The attack was confirmed by a representative of the emergency services of Crimea. The strike was carried out at night and it hit the self-lifting floating drilling rig “Tavrida.” The shell hit the helipad, leaving a hole with a diameter of almost 5m. According to local officials, no one was injured as a result of the shelling. The staff were removed from the platform after the previous attack on the platforms of Chernomorneftegaz. On Jun 20, the Ukrainian Armed Forces struck three drilling platforms of Chernomorneftegaz located at the Odessa field in the Black Sea. At that time there were 109 people on the towers. As a result, three people were injured. They received burns and shrapnel wounds. Seven were missing. One of the platforms burned down completely. Most of the drilling rigs in Crimea are located in the Black Sea west of the peninsula. The attacks were likely carried out from the Odessa region. The weapon used in the attacks was not revealed. There is not a big choice of weapons in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Earlier this month, the US committed to the donation of two Harpoon launch systems to Ukraine. Other Kiev’s allies have also agreed to provide the Harpoon missiles to the AFU ahich could be used with those launchers. Denmark and the United Kingdom were reportedly among them. Earlier, on Jun 17, according to reports of the Ukrainian military the Russian military tugboat Vasily Bekh was attacked in the Black sea and either seriously damaged or sunk. The footage shared by Ukrainian media confirm that the ship was hit by two missiles. Ukrainian officials report that the ship was hit by two land-based missiles, presumably Harpoon systems. The tugboat was transporting ammunition, weapons and personnel to reinforce Russian troops on the island of Zmeiny. The attack took place 19 miles east of the island when it was reportedly transferring the Tor-M2MK short-range air defense system. The media, citing unnamed Russian officials, reported that 10 of the 33 crew members on board were missing, and most of the crew members were injured.

uk column

UK Column News
UK Column, Jun 27 2022

Brian Gerrish, Mike Robinson, David Scott, Katy-Jo Murfin and Mark Anderson with today’s UK Column News.

consortium news

The Fantasy of Fanaticism
Scott Ritter, Consortium News, Jun 25 2022

Main square of Severodonetsk, Feb 2018. (Visem)

For a moment in time, it looked as if reality had managed to finally carve its way through the dense fog of propaganda-driven misinformation that had dominated Western media coverage of Russia’s “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine. In a stunning admission, Oleksandr Danylyuk, a former senior adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Intelligence Services, noted that the optimism that existed in Ukraine following Russia’s decision to terminate “Phase One” of the SMO (a major military feint toward Kiev), and begin “Phase Two” (the liberation of the Donbass), was no longer warranted. Danylyuk noted:

The strategies and tactics of the Russians are completely different right now. They are being much more successful. They have more resources than us and they are not in a rush. There’s much less space for optimism right now.

In short, Russia was winning. Danylyuk’s conclusions were not derived from some esoteric analysis drawn from Sun Tzu or Clausewitz, but rather basic military math. In a war that had become increasingly dominated by the role of artillery, Russia simply was able to bring to bear on the battlefield more firepower than Ukraine.

Oleksandr Danylyuk in 2015. (YouTube)

Ukraine started the current conflict with an artillery inventory that included 540 122mm self-propelled artillery guns, 200 towed 122mm howitzers, 200 122mm MLRS, 53 152mm self-propelled guns, 310 towed 152mm howitzers, and 96 203mm self-propelled guns, for approximately 1,200 artillery and 200 MLRS systems. For the past 100-plus days, Russia has been relentlessly targeting both Ukraine’s artillery pieces and their associated ammunition storage facilities. By Jun 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that it had destroyed “521 MLRS and 1947 field artillery guns and mortars.” Even if the Russian numbers are inflated, as is usually the case when it comes to wartime battle damage assessments, the bottom line is that Ukraine has suffered significant losses among the very weapons systems, artillery, which are needed most in countering the Russian invasion.

But even if Ukraine’s arsenal of Soviet-era 122mm and 152mm artillery pieces were still combat-worthy, the reality is that according to Danylyuk Ukraine has almost completely run out of ammunition for these systems, and the stocks of ammunition sourced from the former Soviet-bloc Eastern European countries that used the same family of weapons have been depleted. Ukraine is left doling out what is left of its former Soviet ammunition while trying to absorb modern Western 155mm artillery systems, such as the Caesar self-propelled gun from France and the US-made M777 howitzer. But the reduced capability means that Ukraine is only able to fire some 4k to 5k artillery rounds per day, while Russia responds with more than 50k. This 10-fold disparity in firepower has proven to be one of the most decisive factors when it comes to the war in Ukraine, enabling Russia to destroy Ukrainian defensive positions with minimal risk to its own ground forces.

This has led to a second level of military math imbalances, that being casualties. Mikhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Zelensky, recently estimated that Ukraine was losing between 100 and 200 soldiers a day on the frontlines with Russia, and another 500 or so wounded. These are unsustainable losses, brought on by the ongoing disparity in combat capability between Russia and Ukraine, symbolized but not limited to artillery. In recognition of this reality, Stoltenberg announced that Ukraine will more than likely have to make territorial concessions to Russia as part of any potential peace agreement, asking:

What price are you willing to pay for peace? How much territory, how much independence, how much sovereignty are you willing to sacrifice for peace?

Stoltenberg, speaking in Finland, noted that similar territorial concessions made by Finland to the Soviet Union at the end of WW2 was “one of the reasons Finland was able to come out of WW2 as an independent sovereign nation.”

Stoltenberg discussing the Madrid summit (NATO)

To recap: the secretary general of the trans-Atlantic alliance responsible for pushing Ukraine into its current conflict with Russia is now proposing that Ukraine be willing to accept the permanent loss of sovereign territory because NATO miscalculated and Russia, instead of being humiliated on the field of battle and crushed economically, is winning on both fronts. Decisively. That the secretary general of NATO would make such an announcement is telling for several reasons. First, Ukraine is requesting 1,000 artillery pieces and 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, more than the entire active-duty inventory of the US Army and Marine Corps combined. Ukraine is also requesting 500 main battle tanks, more than the combined inventories of Germany and the UK. In short, to keep Ukraine competitive on the battlefield, NATO is being asked to strip its own defenses down to literally zero. More telling, however, is what the numbers say about NATO’s combat strength versus Russia. If NATO is being asked to empty its armory to keep Ukraine in the game, one must consider the losses suffered by Ukraine up to that point and that Russia appears able to sustain its current level of combat activity indefinitely. That’s right: Russia just destroyed the equivalent of NATO’s main active-duty combat power and hasn’t blinked. One can only imagine the calculations underway in Brussels as NATO military strategists ponder the fact that their alliance is incapable of defeating Russia in a large-scale European conventional land war.

But there is another conclusion that these numbers reveal: that no matter what the US and NATO do in terms of serving as Ukraine’s arsenal, Russia is going to win the war. The question now is how much time the West can buy Ukraine, and at what cost, in a futile effort to discover Russia’s pain threshold in order to bring the conflict to an end in a manner that reflects anything but the current path toward unconditional surrender. The only questions that need to be answered in Brussels, apparently, is how long can the West keep the Ukrainian Army in the field, and at what cost? Any rational actor would quickly realize that any answer is an unacceptable answer, given the certainty of a Russian victory, and that the West needs to stop feeding Ukraine’s suicidal fantasy of rearming itself to victory.

Enter the NYT, stage right. While trying to completely reshape the narrative regarding the fighting in the Donbass after the damning reality check would be a bridge too far for even the creative minds at the Gray Lady, the writing equivalent of trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. But the editors were able to interview a pair of erstwhile “military analysts” who cobbled together a scenario that transformed Ukraine’s battlefield humiliation. They described a crafty strategy designed to lure Russia into an urban warfare nightmare where, stripped of its advantages in artillery, it was forced to sacrifice soldiers in an effort to dig the resolute Ukrainian defenders from their hardened positions located amongst the rubble of a “dead” city, Severodonetsk. Ukraine forces withdrew from the city Friday.

Gustav Gressel in Berlin, Feb 2020 (Politikwissenschaftlerin)

According to Gustav Gressel, a former Austrian military officer turned military analyst:

If the Ukrainians succeed in trying to drag them into house-to-house combat, there is a higher chance of inducing casualties on the Russians they cannot afford.

According to Mykhailo Samus, a former Ukrainian naval officer turned think-tank analyst, the Ukrainian strategy of dragging Russia into an urban combat nightmare is to buy time for rearming with the heavy weapons provided by the West, to “exhaust, or reduce, the enemy’s offensive capabilities.” The Ukrainian operational concepts in play in Severodonetsk, these analysts claim, have their roots in past Russian urban warfare experiences in Aleppo, Syria and Mariupol. What escapes the attention of these so-called military experts is that both Aleppo and Mariupol were decisive Russian victories; there were no “excessive casualties,” no “strategic defeat.” Had the NYT bothered to check the resumés of the “military experts” it consulted, it would have found two men so deeply entrenched into the Ukrainian propaganda mill as to make their respective opinions all but useless to any journalistic outlet possessing a modicum of impartiality. But this was the NYT. Gressel is the source of such wisdom as:

If we stay tough, if the war ends in defeat for Russia, if the defeat is clear and internally painful, then next time he will think twice about invading a country. That is why Russia must lose this war… We in the West, all of us, must now turn over every stone and see what can be done to make Ukraine win this war.

Apparently, the Gressel playbook for Ukrainian victory includes fabricating a Ukrainian strategy from whole cloth to influence perceptions regarding the possibility of a Ukrainian military victory. Samus likewise seeks to transform the narrative of the Ukrainian frontline forces fighting in Severodonetsk. In a recent interview with the Russian-language journal Meduza, Samus declares:

Russia has concentrated a lot of forces. The Ukrainian armed forces are gradually withdrawing to prevent encirclement. They understand that the capture of Severodonetsk doesn’t change anything for the Russian or the Ukrainian army from a practical point of view. Now, the Russian army is wasting tremendous resources to achieve political objectives and I think they will be very difficult to replenish. For the Ukrainian army, defending Severodonetsk isn’t advantageous. But if they retreat to Lysychansk they’ll be in more favorable tactical conditions. Therefore, the Ukrainian army is gradually withdrawing or leaving Severodonetsk, and upholding the combat mission. The combat mission is to destroy enemy troops and carry out offensive operations.

Mykhailo Samus, Mar 27 (YouTube)

The truth is, there is nothing deliberate about the Ukrainian defense of Severodonetsk. It is the by-product of an army in full retreat, desperately trying to claw out some defensive space, only to be crushed by the brutal onslaught of superior Russian artillery-based firepower. To the extent Ukraine is seeking to delay the Russian advance, it is being done by the full-scale sacrifice of the soldiers at the front, thousands of people thrown into battle with little or no preparation, training, or equipment, trading their lives for time so that Ukrainian negotiators can try to convince NATO countries to mortgage their military viability on the false promise of a Ukrainian military victory. This is the ugly truth about Ukraine today: the longer the war continues, the more Ukrainians will die, and the weaker NATO will become. If left to people like Samus and Gressel, the result would be hundreds of thousands of dead Ukrainians, the destruction of Ukraine as a viable nation-state, and the gutting of NATO’s front-line combat capability, all sacrificed without meaningfully altering the inevitability of a strategic Russian victory. Hopefully sanity will prevail, and the West will wean Ukraine off the addiction of heavy weaponry, and push it to accept a peace settlement which, although bitter to the taste, will leave something of Ukraine for future generations to rebuild.

off-guardian

This Week in the New Normal #35
Off-Guardian, Jun 26 2022

Our successor to This Week in the Guardian, This Week in the New Normal is our weekly chart of the progress of autocracy, authoritarianism and economic restructuring around the world.

1. “PROGRESSIVE” CALLS FOR LEGAL ASSISTED SUICIDE

Progressive Magazine has an article this week calling euthanasia a “civil rights issue.” Also this week, a review of Spain’s new euthanasia law found 180 patients had “died with dignity” in the first 12 months, while Italy carried out their first euthanasia under their new law. Last week, Portugal approved their new euthanasia bill at the first reading. In a piece of interesting timing, French director Francois Ozon just released his latest film Everything Went Fine, which is about assisted suicide. There’s clearly some momentum building here. We at OffG have made our views on this clear in the past: legalizing assisted suicide creates a system potentially far too easily abused by both individuals and institutions. This was the case even pre-Covid. Post-Covid, in a world where we have seen rampant murderous abuse of DNR orders and ventilators and drugs such as midazolam, would be opening the door to possible crimes against humanity on a massive scale. An issue to keep an eye on.

2.UKRAINE BANNING RUSSIAN BOOKS AND MUSIC

The latest edition of “It’s OK when my side does it” hit the newstands this week, with Zelensky announcing a ban on Russian culture, including books and music. Zelensky has already banned opposition political parties, this is just one more step down the path to outright fascism. It’s also faintly farcical in its specificity:

The ban will not apply to all Russian music, but rather relates to music created or performed by those who are or were Russian citizens after 1991. Artists who have condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine can apply for an exemption from the ban.

So democracy. Much freedom. Wow. You could almost believe the Ukraine coverage is one giant experiment. Alternating insisting “there are no Nazis in Ukraine” with picture of men with Swastika tattoos, just to see how many of your brainwashed subjects notice the contradiction. Meanwhile, Zelensky is probably being encouraged to ban political parties, books and music, not because it serves any kind of purpose, but because it provides a pretext for NATO/EU to drop him like he’s hot the exact moment it becomes politically convenient to do so. He might not realise it, but he’s digging his own political grave.

3. HYPOCRITES OF THE WEEK

The reactions to the SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade this week were predictably violent, on both sides. Indeed, the massively divisive reactions were arguably part of the reason it was done. We saw people who insisted they were non-racists calling Justice Clarence Thomas “nigger”, and minor e-celebrities encouraging people to throw Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at the Supreme Court. Apparently that’s not an insurrection now. But special mention must be made of two people: Justin Trudeau and Jacinda Ardern. The Wonder Twins of the New Normal World Order. Within hours of the ruling both had made statements condemning it, with Justin Trudeau’s official twitter posting:

Yes, Justin absolutely respects a woman’s right to choose. Just not to choose to remain unvaccinated, not wear a mask, own a gun, attend a protest or donate money to peaceful protesters. Meanwhile Jacinda Ardern, who during the “pandemic” turned New Zealand into something resembling Nazi Germany if it was run by Ned Flanders, said this in her public statement:

Watching the removal of a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions over their own body is incredibly upsetting.

In the land of vaccine mandates, the hypocrisy is boundless.

BONUS: QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Immortal words. Inspiring words. Incomprehensible words.

America is a nation that can be defined in a single word: Asssfhhhtlllmmnfffsh

– Joe Biden

With this, and Joe’s equally embarrassing cheat sheet, it’s getting easier and easier to believe that the office of the POTUS is being deliberately mocked and degraded at this point.

IT’S NOT ALL BAD

Some good news on the food safety front this week from the US courts, where chemical giant Bayer has been handed two legal defeats on the harms done by their glyphosate products. The now-standard Neil Oliver monologue:

And since it was reported that Ghislaine Maxwell was recently put on suicide watch, this made us chuckle (credit to HooterG via twitter):

All told, a pretty hectic week for the new normal crowd, and we didn’t even mention the UK government admitting they have a “disinformation unit” which “works with” social media companies to remove “inappropriate content,” Pfizer and Moderna’s upcoming “future framework” or Glastonbury’s annual indoctrination festival. There’s a lot of change in the air, a lot of agendas in the works, if you see a headline, article, post or interview you think is a sign of the times, post it in the comments, email us or share it on social media and we will add it to the next edition.

electronic intifada

Has Britain drafted a law to protect Israel’s weapons makers?
Kit Klarenberg, Electronic Intifada, Jun 24 Jun 2022

Palestine Action has proven that the merchants of death are not invincible. Just this week, it was confirmed that Israel’s top weapons exporter Elbit Systems is closing down its offices in London. The decision follows numerous protests against Elbit and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the letting agent for those offices. It is the second time that Palestine Action, the group organizing the protests, has compelled Elbit to quit a site in Britain, a country identified by the firm as a priority for sales and investment. Earlier this year, Elbit confirmed it had sold Ferranti, its subsidiary based in Oldham, near Manchester.

Palestine Action’s protests, which often involve smashing up weapons facilities, have angered Israel and its supporters. One of Israel’s most influential backers in Britain is Priti Patel, the home secretary. She has effectively declared war on Palestinian solidarity activists by claiming without presenting any evidence that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is racist. Patel has proposed new legislation which targets the kind of protests Palestine Action has undertaken. The National Security Bill, as the legislation is called, gives the police powers to designate as “prohibited places” areas where an “aircraft, or a part of an aircraft, used for military purposes” or “equipment relating to such an aircraft” is located.

Following the sale of its plant in Oldham and the closure of its London offices, Elbit now operates out of eight sites in Britain. Elbit-owned plants, which make engines for drones among other components, could conceivably be given a protected status once the legislation comes into effect. Introduced to Britain’s Parliament in May, the bill has so far encountered little opposition. Most elected representatives appear to either welcome how it would penalize direct action against the arms trade or have no concern about its likely implications.

The bill’s stated objective is to replace “existing counter-espionage laws with a comprehensive framework for countering hostile state activity.” The approach being taken is so “comprehensive” that it is questionable whether the bill is really focused on spying in the conventional sense of that term. Many of its provisions could be used against ordinary people seeking to disrupt the weapons business. The bill enables life imprisonment for anyone who obtains or discloses “protected information” and behaves in a way deemed “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the UK.” Elbit describes itself as an “established supplier to the UK Armed Forces” and was recently awarded a contract to deliver surveillance drones to the British Army.

A section on “sabotage” in the bill is highly relevant to Palestine Action. “Sabotage” is defined as “conduct that results in damage to any asset,” particularly if the purpose of that activity “is prejudicial to the safety or interests of the UK.” Palestine Action is openly committed to damaging and destroying Elbit’s assets in Britain. While many people have been arrested for breaking into Elbit’s plants in Britain, nearly all have been acquitted when cases have gone to court. The only successful prosecution was against one activist, who was convicted of defacing a JLL site in the English city of Brighton. The sentence given in that instance was a fine of £22 and conditional discharge for three months. Under a conditional discharge, somebody convicted of an “offense” is released with the “offense” registered on their criminal record. No further action is taken if no other “offense” is committed within a stated period.

Elbit has displayed a reluctance to press charges against protesters, no doubt because the company fears that evidence about the use of its weapons in attacks on Palestinians will be produced in court. The new bill could shield Elbit and other weapons makers from scrutiny. For example, courts would be able to “exclude the public from proceedings” if doing so is deemed “necessary in the interests of national security.” A Palestine Action campaigner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said:

The British government is running scared of the effectiveness of direct action deployed against Elbit. If this bill is custom built to increase consequences for taking action against Elbit, as it seems to be, it clearly exposes the alliance between Britain and Israel’s apartheid regime. No matter what efforts they take to stop our campaign, we will not be moved. While the government wastes time legislating against us, Palestine Action will get on with the job of shutting down the remaining Israeli arms factories in Britain.

colonel cassad

War in Ukraine. Summary for Jun 26
Colonel Cassad, Jun 27 0:17

1. Severodonetsk. Control of the entire territory on the northern shore of the Seversky Donets has been officially announced. Nevertheless, according to the law enforcement agencies of the LPR, up to 1k enemy soldiers remain in the industrial zone and forest plantations, who could not retreat or disguised themselves in civilian clothes, trying to mix with the civilian population. Among them there are foreign mercenaries. The remains of the Severodonetsk group which retreated to Lisichansk, are now either used to defend Lisichansk or are gradually stretching to Seversk while there is still such an opportunity.

2. Lisichansk. The cleaning of Volcheyarovka has been completed. The enemy rolled back to Lisichansk. There is fighting at the Lisichansk refinery and in Bela Gora. There are battles for Verkhnokamyanske, the retention of which is critical for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as in case of its loss their departure to Seversk can become a big problem. The Seversk-Lisichansk highway is under the fire control of the Russian Armed Forces. The enemy will have to solve the problem of the encirclement of its entire Lisichansk grouping.

3. Soledar. Intense battles in Belogorovka, Berestovoy and in the area of Nikolaevka near the Artemovsk-Soledar-Lisichansk highway. This road is completely lost by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

4. Artemovsk. Battles in Klinovoye and in the direction of Pokrovsky. The Armed Forces of Ukraine note the accumulation of forces of the Russian Armed Forces in the Artemovsk direction and expect the beginning of the assault on the city, but I believe that the direct assault on Artemovsk will not begin before our troops reach Soledar from the north. Kodem and Semigorye have no changes, as well as in the area of the Novolugansk and Uglegorsk Thermal Power Plants.

5. Zolotoe. It is reported that the cleaning of the boiler territory and active filtration measures are continued, as a significant number of enemy soldiers is mixed with the local population, as in Severodonetsk. Those who were able to retreat from the cauldron are mostly now either in the area of Lisichansk or have departed to Seversk and Artemovsk.

6. Avdiivka. At the front, north of the village, without significant changes. There are positional battles, as well as near New York. There is no significant progress here. The enemy continues to shell Donetsk, Makeyevka and other settlements, but somewhat less intensely than a week ago, following Russian attacks on artillery and MLRS positions. Today there were powerful blows to Avdiivka. In addition to terrorist attacks, the enemy continues to target ппд и склады (? – RB), including targets in the depths of the DPR and LPR, using Western weapons and tactical missiles.

7. Slavyansk. Battles near Dolyna, Krasnopol and Mazanovka. Battles at Sidorov, Prishyb and Tatyanovka. The Slavyansk-Kramatorsk agglomeration is under attack.

8. Ugledar. Intensive battles continued in the area of Pavlovka and Egorovka, but the enemy could not develop success after entering Pavlovka. Nevertheless, attempts to completely oust our troops from the area of Egorovka will certainly continue.

9. Snake Island. The enemy attacked the Tavrida drilling rig (the platform was damaged), and also continued attacks on the island, which were repulsed (shot down 1 Su-25). The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine promises to continue the confrontation for Snake Island.

10. Nikolaev. The Nikolaev, Kryvyi Rih and Nikopol directions without significant changes. There is no offensive on Kherson, in fact. The fuss continues in the villages between Nikolaev and Kherson. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Black Sea Fleet continue to make regular strikes on military facilities and clusters of enemy manpower and equipment in Nikolaev and Kryvyi Rih region.

Odessa, Izyum, Maryinka, Zaporozhye, Kharkiv – unchanged.

rick rozoff

Troops from US, NATO partners train at Georgian mountain range
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 26 2022

Georgian, foreign servicemembers complete Basic Mountain Training Summer Course
Agenda.ge, Jun 26 2022

Georgian and foreign servicemembers completed a joint course for mountain training in the country’s west on Sunday, the Defence Ministry has announced. The three-week course at western Georgia’s Sachkhere Mountain Training School involved troops from the US, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Armenia alongside their Georgian counterparts.

Photo: Georgian Ministry of Defense

Turkish envoy says Azerbaijani army always ready for war
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 26 2022

Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan: Azerbaijani army is always ready for war
Azeri Press Agency, Jun 26 2022

Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Cahit Bagchi, who is on a visit to Ganja, told APA’s local bureau: “I congratulate the entire Azerbaijani people, led by Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev, on the 104th anniversary of the formation of the Armed Forces. The decision of national leader Heydar Aliyev to celebrate June 26 as Armed Forces Day actually laid the foundation for military cooperation between the two countries. For 30 years, the Turkish army has made every effort to reform and modernize the Azerbaijani army. Most importantly, Azerbaijani soldiers and officers are learning from Turkey how to build a modern military model. Turkey, as a fraternal country, is directly involved in the training of ground forces, air defense systems, marines, border troops and special forces of the Azerbaijani army. Azerbaijan is Turkey’s closest military partner, and we want our brothers to have the strongest army in the Caucasus and be ready for any situation. Today we can say with full responsibility that the Azerbaijani army is one of the strongest, most disciplined and modern armies in the region, with modern weapons and qualified military personnel. The Azerbaijani army has been modernized. We have a saying: If you want peace, be ready for war. The Azerbaijani army is always ready for war.”

Newest US anti-missile warship leaves Baltic war games for Mediterranean
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 26 2022

Paul Ignatius, Newest FDNF-E Ship, Arrives in Homeport Rota, Spain
US Naval Forces Europe, Jun 17 2022

The guided-missile destroyer Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) arrived in its new homeport of Naval Station Rota on Jun 17 2022, as the US Navy’s newest destroyer in Forward Deployed Naval Forces Europe. Prior to arriving in Rota, the Paul Ignatius operated alongside British, Canadian, French, German and Norwegian allies as part of exercises Cable Car and Green Light. The ship also conducted port visits in Ponta Delgada, Portugal and Bergen. In the Baltic, the Paul Ignatius integrated with the 2nd Marine Division and the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group with embarked Amphibious Squadron Six and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The ship also conducted interoperability exercises with the Sioux City (LCS 11) during the inaugural deployment of a Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship to Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation. Commissioned in 2019,the Paul Ignatius is the second of eight Flight IIA “technology insertion” ships, bringing enhanced capability and technological advancements to US Naval Forces Europe and Destroyer Squadron 60. The ship is the 67th guided-missile destroyer.

NATO’s thirteen submarine nations: war games completed in High North
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 26 2022

NATO Exercise Dynamic Mongoose 22 Concludes
NATO, Jun 24 2022

NATO-led exercise Dynamic Mongoose concluded today in the High North. Ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from nine Allied nations exercised in the Norwegian Sea for Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare training from Jun 13-24. The exercise had the participation of Sailors and Airmen from nine NATO nations: Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, UK and US including 3 submarines, 11 surface ships and 16 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Commodore A van de Sande, Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, said: “Anti-Submarine Warfare is an all-arms mission. The coordination between ships, submarines and aircraft can be difficult but is the most effective way to detect and track submarines. Dynamic Mongoose gives all our ships the opportunity to train these skills.” Coordination of the exercise rested with Commander Submarines Forces NATO in Northwood UK. There, US Navy Rear- Adm Steve Mack leads 40-person team of Officers and NCOs from NATO’s 13 submarine nations: Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, UK and US.

Karabakh war allows Ankara to expand pan-Turkic corridor to Chinese, Russian borders
Rick Rozoff, AntiBellum, Jun 26 2022

Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan to strengthen regional connectivity
Daily Sabah, Jun 26 2022

Ankara, Baku and Nursultan will hold the Trilateral Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in Charge of Transport on Monday to strengthen regional connectivity and cooperation. The Turkish foreign ministry announced on Sunday: “The Trilateral Meeting aims to reinforce the already existing coordination between the three countries, and strengthen regional connectivity based on mutual interests. In this context, the Ministers will discuss enhancing trilateral and regional cooperation and increasing the potential of the Trans-Caspian East-West-Middle Corridor.” After the Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia ended, Baku launched a massive reconstruction initiative in the Karabakh region while regional countries, especially Turkey, argued for increased cooperation in the Caucasus. Turkey was a key backer of Azerbaijan during the 44-day Karabakh war between Baku and Yerevan, which erupted on Sep 27 2020, and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire on Nov 10. During the faceoff that started in Sep 2020, Azerbaijan liberated 300 villages or settlements and several cities. Azerbaijan has focused on projects in the Zangezur Corridor, to include motorways and rail lines. Baku and Moscow will negotiate the construction of a 43-km railway in the region. Russia has railway properties in Armenia. Following the completion of the railway, Azerbaijan will be able to reach Iran, Armenia and Nakhchivan uninterruptedly by train. The railway will also link Turkey with Russia through Azerbaijan.

wsws

The G7 war summit and the US abortion ban
WSWS, Jun 27 2022

The escalation of the US-NATO war against Russia and the massive attack on democratic rights, epitomized in the US Supreme Court decision abolishing the right to an abortion, are two sides of the same process. In his seminal 1916 work Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, Vladimir Lenin defined imperialism as “reaction all down the line.” In both war and domestic policy, “finance capital strives for domination, not freedom.” Lenin wrote:

The difference between the democratic-republican and the reactionary-monarchist imperialist bourgeoisie is obliterated precisely because they are both rotting alive.

Lenin’s words aptly characterize the present crisis of the world capitalist system. At this weekend’s G7 summit, the leaders of the major imperialist powers met in the Bavarian Alps to plan the next stage of the war. Behind the backs of the population, with no public discussion and no formal declaration, the conflict has developed into a de facto war against Russia in Ukraine. The extent of NATO involvement was revealed in a NYT article published Saturday titled “Commando network coordinates flow of weapons in Ukraine, officials say.” The article explains that the US and NATO have organized “a stealthy network of commandos and spies” who are “rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training.” The article cites US and European officials who confirmed that the NATO powers have deployed advisers within Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers, while the US military directly trains soldiers at bases in Germany. This is the product of a years-long plan, dating back to the 2014 Ukrainian elections and the Maidan putsch, to transform Ukraine into a staging ground for a war against Russia. The NYT article states:

From 2015 to early this year, American Special Forces and National Guard instructors trained more than 27k Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine near the city of Lviv, Pentagon officials said.

In both their choice of planning location as well as in their war aims, the leaders of the world’s self-proclaimed “democracies” emulated Hitler, the last capitalist politician who attempted the colonization of Russia through military means. The very castle where the G7 leaders met in the Bavarian town of Schloss Elmau had been a Nazi military vacation camp during WW2. A communiqué issued by the G7 group after the meeting in Schloss Elmau states that it is prepared to carry on the war “as long as it takes.” This means there is no limit to the number of lives the governments are willing to sacrifice to accomplish their geostrategic goals. The first point on the agenda at the G7 summit, on the cost-of-living and food crisis, makes clear that the ruling class is aware the war is paving the way for a colossal confrontation with the working class. Under these conditions, the ruling class of each imperialist power views the most basic democratic rights as obstacles in the pursuit of its war aims. Even as the war propagandists in the corporate media justify war on the grounds that Putin is a “fascist,” the logic of the development of the war in the imperialist countries necessitates “reaction all down the line.”

The decision by five unelected judges on the Supreme Court to strip hundreds of millions of Americans of the right to abortion must be seen in this context. In issuing its decision, the court announced that it was launching an assault on all basic democratic rights. While Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly referenced contraceptives and same-sex marriage as its next targets, he made clear that all cases involving substantive due process must now be revisited. This includes fundamental rights related to searches and seizures, free speech and assembly, labor regulations and other civil rights. The Democratic Party and Biden administration have facilitated the Supreme Court’s attack on democratic rights with constant efforts to appeal to and appease the far right. When Biden speaks of his “Republican friends,” he is appealing to bipartisan unity in the pursuit of imperialist war aims against Russia. This bipartisanship only legitimizes the extreme right and strengthens the increasingly fascist Republican Party, which attempted to prevent Biden from taking office less than two years ago.

The intensification of the war and the abortion ban are inextricably related and underscore the basic truth that democracy is incompatible with imperialism. In his 1948 book The American Political Tradition, the historian Richard Hofstadter references publisher Frank Cobb’s recollection of a discussion with then-President Woodrow Wilson on the eve of Wilson’s 1917 decision to enter WW1. Cobb writes of Wilson:

He said when a war got going it was just war and there weren’t two things about it. It required illiberalism at home to reinforce the men at the front. We couldn’t fight Germany and maintain the ideals of Government that all thinking men shared. He said: “To fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat…”

This is the case in every imperialist center, where three decades of nonstop imperialist war have asphyxiated democracy and nourished the forces of extreme political reaction. In Britain, Boris Johnson is perhaps the most hated prime minister in history for his naked corruption and slovenly subservience to the London banks. The Johnson government is attempting to deport asylum seekers from countries devastated by imperialist war to Rwanda in a move that even the European Court of Human Rights ruled is blatantly illegal. In France, where Emmanuel Macron is reviled as the “president of the rich,” the fascist far right won more votes than in any previous presidential election. An unelected administrative court just banned Muslim women from wearing bathing suits that comport with their religious beliefs in a blatant act of cruel discrimination against the country’s large immigrant population.

The war will be conducted on the basis of a massive assault on the economic and social rights of the working class in every country. Government after government is pouring billions of dollars into arming Ukraine without ever asking the public. Calls are growing for balancing budgets to pave the way for further military spending. To pay for war, health and welfare programs will be gutted, even as the pandemic spreads and as governments enact fiscal policies aimed at increasing unemployment and lowering wages. The war has exacerbated a cost-of-living crisis that is forcing billions of workers to confront unprecedented levels of economic hardship. The imperialist governments are sacrificing the lives of millions in Asia and Africa who face varying degrees of starvation in an attempt to weaken the Russian government’s ties to the global economy. In Europe and North America, the cost of food, gas, energy, rent and basic services is skyrocketing because of the war, while the corporatist trade union bureaucracies suppress wages.

Conditions are emerging for a revolutionary explosion throughout the world. Protests against the rising cost of living are suppressed with deadly brutality in countries like Peru, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, and elsewhere. In Europe, strikes are growing across the transport industries, including among British rail workers, dockworkers in Germany and Greece, airport workers in France, Denmark and the Netherlands, and pilots and flight attendants across the continent at Easy Jet, Ryan Air, British Airways and SAS. A series of powerful strikes have taken place in heavy industry in the US, where strikes are threatened by tens of thousands of dock and rail workers. The ruling class has responded by banning strikes and blaming workers for undermining the war effort. In Britain, the Tories are denouncing striking rail workers as “Putin’s agents,” while the courts in the US have barred rail workers from striking on national security grounds. This is the modern version of Hitler’s “stab-in-the-back” narrative, which blamed German workers and the revolution of 1918 for German imperialism’s defeat in WW1. In Spain, the “democratic” government of the PSOE and Podemos banned airport workers from joining a European-wide strike for similar reasons.

The International Committee of the Fourth International and its national sections, the Socialist Equality Parties, call for the development of a powerful movement of the international working class against imperialist war. The fight against war must be connected to the defense of democratic rights, rooted in the growing struggles of workers throughout the world, and based on a socialist program in opposition to the capitalist profit system.

Bank for International Settlements calls for accelerated interest rate hikes
Nick Beams, WSWS, Jun 27 2022

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the umbrella organisation for the world’s central banks, has called for an escalation of interest rate rises to stop inflation becoming “entrenched,” that is, to hit harder against wage demands by slowing down economic growth, even to the point of inducing a recession. The call was made in the BIS annual economic report issued over the weekend as leaders of the G7 were meeting in Germany to determine future action against Russia, and to discuss policies in response to the deepening crisis in the global economy. the report said:

Gradually raising policy rates at a pace that falls short of inflation increases means falling real interest rates. This is hard to reconcile with the need to keep inflation risks in check. Given the extent of the inflationary pressure unleashed over the past year, real policy rates will need to increase significantly in order to moderate demand.

The BIS pointed to the effects of the previous monetary policies of the world’s central banks in pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system after the global financial crisis of 2008 and the market meltdown of Mar 2020. These measures had boosted stock markets and lifted asset prices to record highs, especially property. It said:

The coexistence of elevated financial vulnerabilities and high inflation globally makes the current conjuncture unique for the post-WW2 era. Tighter monetary conditions needed to bring down inflation could cast doubt on asset valuations including housing, priced on the basis of persistently low interest rates. The provision of central bank liquidity and even traditionally more secure assets could be exposed. Bonds, for example, have provided a safe haven for investors in the low-inflation environment of recent decades. During this phase, bad economic times when the prices of riskier assets like equities typically fall were generally met with monetary easing which boosted bond prices. But when inflation is high, economic downturns are more likely to be triggered by tighter monetary conditions, causing both bond and stock prices to fall. A modest slowdown may not be enough. Lowering inflation could involve significant output costs, as after the ‘Great Inflation’ of the 1970s. Some pain will be inevitable, but the overriding priority is to avoid falling behind the curve.

The economic response to the 1970s inflation was the “Volcker shock” of the early 1980s, which resulted in an upsurge of struggles by the working class around the world. Under the chairmanship of Paul Volcker, the Fed lifted lifted interest rates to record highs, 20% at one point, resulting in the deepest recession to that point since the Great Depression to crush wage demands. But as the WSJ noted, the risks to the global economy are much greater today because “overvalued assets and high debt were much less of a concern” at that time. As with central banks around the world, the BIS insisted that the key issue is wages, writing:

Whether inflation becomes entrenched or not ultimately depends on whether wage-price spirals will develop. The risk should not be underestimated, owing to the inherent dynamics of transitions from low- to high-inflation regimes. Price-induced cuts in real wages are likely to prompt workers to seek to recoup the lost of purchasing power. In many countries, a substantial part if not the bulk of wage negotiations are still to come.

In other words, the present upsurge in the struggles of workers seeking higher wages is only the beginning of a much bigger movement building up. The BIS left no doubt about what the response had to be. It drew attention to the fact that existence of private debt at “historical peaks” and “elevated valuations” could make financial markets overreact. This raised a “policy dilemma” because financial market reactions “may counsel caution.” But, it insisted that notwithstanding this “dilemma” central banks had to press ahead, because “the risk of inflation becoming entrenched calls for a more preemptive and vigorous response.” Underscoring this prescription, BIS general manager Agustín Carstens said:

The key for central banks is to act quickly and decisively before inflation becomes entrenched.

On top of a preemptive strike against wages, the BIS called for cuts in vital government spending, in other words an austerity drive. Their report stated:

For far too long, there has been a temptation to turn to fiscal and monetary policy to boost growth, regardless of the underlying causes of weakness. Loosening during contractions has not been followed by consolidation during expansions. The temptation to postpone adjustments has been too strong. Such a strategy has arguably generated unrealistic expectations and demands for further support.

The rapidly worsening economic outlook hangs over the G7 leaders meeting now underway in Germany. While the first day of discussions were dominated by moves to increase measures against Russia with regard to oil exports, the economic crisis is a key issue. A survey of economists conducted by the Financial Times on the eve of the meeting concluded that the risk of recession in Europe and the US had increased markedly following the decision by the US Federal Reserve to “go big” on rate increases with its decision to lift its base rate by 0.75% earlier this month. The mood was summed up by Berenberg chief economist Holger Schmieding, who told the FT the balance had “tipped” in favour of an economic contraction. He said:

What used to be a rising risk has now turned into a base case. It would have been impossible to imagine at the last G7 summit that we’d be facing a situation like this. Things are pretty bad and could get even worse.

An unnamed “senior German official” cited by the newspaper said:

At the start of the pandemic, there was a simple consensus on how to respond through expansive monetary and fiscal policy. The situation we’re now in is a lot more complex, a lot more difficult. This completely clear, almost instinctive idea that you just pursue expansionary polices is no longer so obvious.

The way in which the leaders of the major powers will seek to use the economic crisis that their own policies have created in order to intensify the war against Russia and draw China into the line of fire was revealed in Schmieding’s comments. He said:

It’s not the G7 leaders who have caused these problems, it’s Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

That is, the inflation crisis is not the result of the inflationary monetary policies pursued over the last two decades, and the refusal of capitalist governments to eliminate the pandemic, but the product of Putin’s Ukraine war, while the Chinese government is responsible for the supply chain crisis because of its zero COVID policies based on necessary and effective public health safety measures.

Spain’s PSOE-Podemos government denounces migrants as “hybrid threat”
Alice Summers, WSWS, Jun 27 2022

Spain’s PSOE (Socialist Party) – Podemos government has demanded that NATO consider migration, food insecurity and terrorism to be “hybrid threats.” This reference to NATO denunciations of Russian “hybrid warfare” before the war in Ukraine comes as Madrid prepares to host the 2022 NATO summit from Jun 28–30. PSOE Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares told Reuters the Spanish government intends to push for the inclusion of these “non-military” threats into NATO’s “Strategic Concept” document, the alliance’s new policy roadmap for the next decade. The document, to be drafted at the conference, will lay out NATO’s “mission” amid the war in Ukraine and the admission of new members such as Sweden and Finland. Albares told Reuters that NATO must also strengthen its “southern flank,” meaning the Sahel and Maghreb, even as the military alliance funnels billions of dollars worth of weapons and military vehicles to Ukraine to wage NATO’s proxy war against Russia. Albares stated:

We want it to be recognised that there are also serious threats coming from the southern flank. Terrorism, cyber-security, the political use of energy resources and irregular migration affect our sovereignty.

Albares claimed that the inclusion in the NATO strategic document of these “hybrid threats” with explicit reference to the “southern flank” would have a “deterrent” effect. The PSOE-Podemos government’s characterisation of migration as a “hybrid threat” is not only a declaration of its intent to launch a brutal crackdown on refugees and asylum-seekers. Madrid means to instrumentalise the arrival of a few thousand refugees a year at its borders to push for neocolonial wars and interventions in the resource-rich regions of North and sub-Saharan Africa. Albares continued:

Nobody should doubt that these hybrid threats could be used to challenge our territorial integrity and our sovereignty. We don’t have to do anything new. We just have to take into account that a series of threats can come from the southern flank, that at any moment could require a defensive reaction from NATO exactly like what we’re seeing on the eastern flank.

This is nothing less than a call for NATO to turn the Maghreb and Sahel into a new Ukraine, asserting its interests in this region via proxy wars or even direct military intervention. If migration is to be acknowledged as a strategic “hybrid” threat, several questions are raised. Would the arrival of refugees on the southern borders of the NATO bloc constitute an “attack” on the alliance? Would this trigger Article 5 of NATO’s treaty, obliging all 30 member states to come to Spain’s “defence” by waging war on impoverished African or Middle Eastern states? Which country would be considered the aggressor? The one from which the majority of migrants are coming? Or any country that refugees pass through on their way to Europe, and which fails to apprehend them? Each of these scenarios risks the outbreak of large-scale war. In this regard, it is significant that Albares framed his reactionary demands as being a part of NATO’s ongoing conflict with Russia, explaining that interventions in the Sahel and Maghreb would be necessary to combat the “growing Russian influence” in the region. Referring to the deployment of Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in Mali, he stated:

The presence of Russia doesn’t help anything. It doesn’t help to advance democracy or to stabilise the situation at all.

The statements made by Albares recall events last autumn. In October and November, as a few thousand refugees from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other war zones tried to enter the EU from Belarus, European politicians and media denounced Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko for supposedly using refugees and migrants as a weapon in a “hybrid war.” Their aim was to ramp up tensions with Belarus, a Russian ally, as part of their campaign to militarily encircle and ultimately wage war on Russia.

Spain’s calls for a strategic focus on the “southern flank” come amid growing Spanish-Algerian tensions triggered by the Algerian-Moroccan conflict over the Western Sahara. Algerian–Spanish relations have been strained since PSOE PM Pedro Sánchez recognised Morocco’s claim to the Western Sahara in mid-March. The Western Sahara is a sparsely inhabited former Spanish colonial possession on Morocco’s south-western border, with considerable mineral and phosphate reserves. Rabat has long sought to bring it under Moroccan administration as an “autonomous region.” After Spain ended its long-standing neutrality in this dispute, Algeria, which has backed the pro–Sahrawi independence Polisario Front, withdrew its ambassador from Madrid. On Jun 8, reports then emerged that Algiers had officially ended its 20-year treaty of friendship with Spain, although the Algerian government later denied this.

The Spanish government fears that Algeria, which provided 40% of Spain’s natural gas imports in 2021, may now cut energy supplies to the country. This comes as the EU and NATO campaign for an energy embargo against Russia, the EU’s major oil and gas supplier, amid the war in Ukraine. Spain’s economy minister and first deputy prime minister, Nadia Calviño, tried to blame Madrid’s deteriorating relations with Algeria on Russia, telling Catalunya Radio:

These reports did not surprise me that much. I had already seen that Algeria was more and more aligned with Russia. The important thing is for the EU to respond with unity and determination.

The call for refugees to be considered a type of “hybrid warfare” is a significant escalation of Madrid’s vicious anti-migrant campaign, which it has adopted directly from the programme of the far-right Vox party. In a statement on May 18 referring to migrants on the Spanish–Moroccan borders as “hybrid warfare,” Vox declared:

The Moroccan government continues to attack Spain through its hostile actions against the autonomous cities (Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla). The aggression suffered by Spain is not finding any response in the face of the hostilities of Morocco.

Vox’s comments themselves echo those made by PM Sánchez last May. As several thousand Moroccan migrants tried to cross over into Ceuta, Sánchez had all but accused the Moroccan government of waging war on Spain. Rabat, which had reportedly opened its side of the border in retaliation for Spain’s earlier position on the Western Sahara, had “used immigration,” Sánchez stated, “due to disagreements in foreign policy.” Sánchez declared that this was “inadmissible” and akin to “attacking borders.”

The PSOE-Podemos government already has the blood of thousands of refugees on its hands. Blocking off “legal” routes to enter Spain, it has forced desperate migrants to make perilous sea journeys in unsafe or makeshift vessels, in which thousands have drowned. On Friday, dozens of African migrants were killed and hundreds injured as they tried to climb the border fence between Morocco and Melilla. The PSOE-Podemos government of warmongers has fully signed itself up to NATO’s war against Russia and is campaigning for the escalation of imperialist conflict abroad, all while it cracks down on refugees at its borders and workers’ opposition at home. The decisive issue is to build an anti-war movement in the working class, in irreconcilable opposition to pseudo-left parties like Podemos, defending refugees and migrants as part of a struggle for socialism in Spain and internationally.

37 refugees dead, hundreds injured in Spanish-Moroccan police massacre at Melilla border
Alejandro López, WSWS, Jun 27 2022

Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE)-Podemos government, working with Moroccan police acting as EU border guards, have carried out a barbaric massacre at the borders of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Africa. At least 37 migrants were killed and 150 more were injured when thousands tried to cross the Moroccan border into Melilla on Friday. According to the UNHCR, many came from Chad, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan, and would be considered potential asylum seekers according to international law. The precise cause of the deaths remains unclear. Some migrants may have died from suffocation or crushing because of a stampede provoked by Moroccan police charges. Other deaths may have occurred when some fell from the top of the fence: at the place on the border where the massacre took place, the border fence rises to between 6m and 10m in height. Others may have been directly killed by police who hit them with stones and batons. Footage released by Al Jazeera showed dozens of people lying by the border fence, some bleeding and many apparently lifeless as Moroccan security forces stood over them. In one clip, a Moroccan security officer appeared to strike a person lying on the ground with a baton. Significant police repression by Spain’s Civil Guard and National Police left at least 60 migrants injured, two of them in hospital. According to Spanish govt spox in Melilla, police forces from the two sides of the border worked collaboratively, in “a joint operation,” with tear gas and baton charges from both sides against the crowd. The Moroccan Association for Human Rights said:

Many of those wounded were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths.

Helena Maleno, founder of the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, declared:

The victims of the Melilla tragedy agonized for hours under the cruel gaze of those who were supposed to help them and did not.

According to videos posted by elDiario.es and Público, Moroccan security forces pursued some 500 migrants into Spanish territory, where they attacked, arrested and forcibly returned them to Morocco. Only 133 refugees now remain in Melilla, with the rest forcibly expelled. Certain images, recorded by elDiario.es between 11 and 12 in the morning, show two Moroccan gendarmes at the border, on the roof of a Spanish checkpoint, taking turns trying to stone a migrant who was at the top of the fence. The ability of Moroccan police to cross into Spain depended on the collusion of the members of the Civil Guard and the National Police. Photojournalist Javier Bernardo told Público:

The Spanish agents were in trouble. There were many people in a very narrow place. Migrants who managed to cross were surrounded by the Police and the Civil Guard, who pushed them towards the Moroccan side. Some managed to break free and run further into Melilla. I was surprised to see the green helmets of Moroccan police on the Spanish side of the fence, detaining, assaulting and returning migrants. It’s the first time I’ve seen this in four years working in Melilla.

On Sunday evening, protests against the massacre erupted across Spain, in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Bilbao, Badajoz, Cáceres, Seville, Granada, Cádiz, Mataró and Zaragoza. These horrific scenes testify to the barbaric character of the EU. To the east, NATO’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine has led to tens of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. To its south, the EU is arraying the full force of its police-military machine against migrants, thousands of whom are left to drown in the Mediterranean each year. PM Pedro Sánchez hailed the massacre. Promoted in the media as having a more “humane” policy towards migrants when he came to power in mid-2018, Sánchez hailed the police and denounced the victims in words that could have been said by any far-right leader from Donald Trump to Santiago Abascal of Spain’s fascistic Vox party. Sánchez condemned the migrants’ attempted mass crossing as a “violent assault” and an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain. He cynically blamed it on human trafficking, saying:

If there is anyone responsible for everything that appears to have taken place at that border, it is the mafias that traffic in human beings.

Even more disgusting were the feigned calls for an investigation from Podemos, which demanded an “immediate and independent” EU investigation of its own government to clarify the “harsh images of violence and serious human rights violations by border authorities.” Deputy PM and de facto Podemos leader Yolanda Díaz sent her “condolences to the loved ones” of the victims. Podemos parliamentary spox Pablo Echenique tried to deflect attention by racializing the massacre and blaming Morocco. He tweeted:

If they were blond and European, there would be emergency meetings at the highest level, television specials about their life stories and their families and a total break in relations with the country whose police action has caused this tragedy.

In fact, as Echenique knows full well, the imperialist media’s propaganda feigned sympathy towards Ukrainian refugees only seeks to promote war against Russia, which Podemos fully backs. In reality, official treatment of Ukrainian refugees has been very different, with one EU country after another cutting their social benefits. One of the worst was Spain, where authorities have been receiving large numbers of complaints from Ukrainians of abuse and poor treatment. Just 6.5% of the 47k Ukrainian refugees in Spain have found work, mainly seasonal jobs tied to the orange harvest. The Podemos International Area stated that the timing of the massacre “is not by chance,” as it occurs days before the NATO Summit in Madrid, where the southern border and increasing military spending will be discussed. This statement directly raises the issue of the complicity of Podemos in the massacre.

At the NATO summit, the PSOE-Podemos government is demanding that NATO consider migration as a “hybrid threat,” justifying stepped-up repression of refugees and imperialist interventions in Africa. If this massacre was “not by chance,” the question is whether the PSOE and Podemos encouraged this to take place to justify their plans they will announce for the NATO summit. The brutality of the EU, the PSOE-Podemos government and their Moroccan police allies against refugees must be taken as a warning to the working class. Amid spiraling inflation, millions of preventable deaths due to capitalist mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and NATO’s war with Russia, the ruling class is rapidly turning to dictatorship. The Melilla massacre is just the latest outrage that the PSOE-Podemos government has perpetrated against refugees. Tens of thousands have died making this risky journey. Last year, over 1.1k migrants died trying to reach the Canary Islands. Those who reach the islands are interned in concentration camps built by the PSOE-Podemos government.

Last year, the government, backed by the EU, reacted to desperate migrants crossing from Morocco into Spain by deploying the army, special forces and riot police to round up and expel thousands of desperate men, women and children after denying them food and medical care. WSWS warned that violence against migrants would soon be turned against the workers. Months later, the PSOE-Podemos government deployed armored vehicles and riot police against striking metalworkers in Cadiz. This April, it mobilized 23k police to crush a truckers strike against rising fuel prices amid NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine. Now, Spain is mobilizing 20k police and military officers to police the streets during the NATO summit in Madrid. The sympathy for migrants felt by millions of workers across Europe exposes the utterly anti-democratic character of the anti-refugee policy of the PSOE-Podemos government and the EU.

UN investigation finds IOF killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh with “seemingly well-aimed bullets”
Jean Shaoul, WSWS, Jun 26 2022

A UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) investigation has shown that the bullets that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi, were fired by IOF. It is a damning refutation of Israel’s preposterous lie about her murder, including that she was shot by Palestinians firing indiscriminately at its troops. Spox Ravina Shamdasani told reporters Friday:

All the information we have gathered is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from IOF, and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians. There was no evidence of activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists.

The IOF killing on May 11 of Al-Jazeera Arabic’s widely respected veteran journalist, a US-Palestinian citizen, while she was covering an army raid on Jenin in the occupied West Bank, caused mass outrage. Clad in a press vest and helmet and standing in open view near a roundabout, she was targeted and shot by Israeli snipers along with her co-producer Ali Sammoudi who was hospitalised. It was a brazen attempt to intimidate and prevent journalists reporting on Israel’s brutal suppression of the Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, Israeli troops have killed 30 journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 2000. In each case, there have been no indictments against the soldiers responsible, testifying to the degree to which US backing guarantees impunity.

Israeli police later stormed her family’s home demanding the mourners take down the Palestinian flags and end the gathering and singing. On the day of the funeral, the police gave the pallbearers such a beating that they nearly dropped the coffin. Soldiers fired sponge-tipped bullets and threw stun grenades at the crowds gathered at the hospital morgue until Abu Akleh’s family were forced to whisk her coffin away in a car as a police officer removed the Palestinian flags covering it. Shamdasani said the UN Human Rights Office had gone through photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses. She confirmed that the Al Jazeera reporter along with her fellow journalists had made a real effort to be clearly visible as members of the press to Israeli soldiers. Shamdasani said:

The journalists said they chose a side street for their approach to avoid the location of armed Palestinians inside the camp and that they proceeded slowly in order to make their presence visible to the Israeli forces deployed down the street. Our findings indicate that no warnings were issued and no shooting was taking place at that time and at that location. Several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces. Furthermore, bullets continued to be fired at an unarmed man who tried to help Abu Akleh, as well as a journalist who was sheltering behind a tree. At least 16 shots were fired in total. It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.

The UN Human Rights Office report follows an investigation by the Palestinian Authority published May 26 that arrived at the same conclusion from the autopsy and an examination of the armour-piercing bullets that hit Abu Akleh and Sammoudi. Palestinian officials accused Israel of killing her deliberately, citing the fact that she had been shot in the head even though she was wearing a vest clearly identifying her as a journalist. Palestinian officials have refused to cooperate with any Israeli investigation or hand over the bullets, knowing full well that any such inquiry will allow the soldiers responsible to get off scot-free.

There have been at least five other investigations into Abu Akleh’s death published in international media outlets including the NYT, the WaPo, CNN and the AP, all of which have subjected witnesses’ statements and the video clips to extensive forensic examination by experts and confirmed Israel’s responsibility for her killing. Israeli officials variously charged the Palestinians with both direct and indirect responsibility for Abu Akleh’s death and denied any possibility that Israeli troops had killed her, since “the army opens fire only in an orderly, controlled manner,” while others even blamed the journalist for her own death, claiming she was just a paid agent of terrorists.

Later as Israel’s PM Naftali Bennett realized that Abu Akleh’s murder was turning into a public relations disaster, officials went into damage control mode, proposing a joint Israeli-Palestinian investigation. There would be a police investigation into the attack on the pallbearers carrying Abu Akleh’s coffin out of the hospital morgue. But its outcome was determined in advance. While it found that the handling of the event amounted to police misconduct, none of the commanders in charge of the incident would be disciplined in line with a decision made prior to the investigation. Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told a lawyers’ conference in Tel Aviv:

The bottom line is that the conduct of police officers there was wrong, but not every investigation has to end with heads rolling.

Eventually, the army accepted the “possibility” that Israeli gunfire had “inadvertently” killed the veteran journalist. However, the military’s advocate general ruled against a criminal investigation by the military police since the incident was a “combat event” with no suspicion of a criminal offense, even though she was a journalist killed in the line of duty. This is a clear breach of the order put in place in 2011 that requires an investigation into every case of a death in the West Bank, except in a clear case of thwarting of a terror attack or the death of an armed individual during an exchange of fire. Israel has always used this order as the basis for its claim that it is capable of investigating itself, despite few indictments ever following. Instead, as a sop to international public opinion, an army spokesperson promised a “thorough examination” of the events, with the proviso that without the PA handing over the bullet removed from Abu Akleh’s body it would be impossible to establish the truth.

Israel’s paymaster in Washington rushed to support its regional policeman, rejecting any responsibility to investigate the death of a US citizen, only belatedly echoing Israel’s call for a joint Israeli-Palestinian inquiry, since changed to “an independent, credible investigation.” According to the army’s own data released in response to a freedom of information request and analysed by Yesh Din, only five (7.2%) of all internal military investigations opened in 2019-20 resulted in criminal indictments, and only 2% of the complaints received led to the prosecution of a suspect, up from 0.7% in 2017-18. The punishment, usually for low level offences rather than manslaughter or murder, typically result in a trivial punishment. The total number of investigations by the army is declining each year.

Abu Akleh’s death is to be added to a legal complaint by the International Federation of Journalists, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians to the ICC. It relates to four Palestinian journalists wearing press helmets and vests, two killed and the other two maimed, and the attacks on international media buildings in Gaza in May 2021. The case argues that IOF have systematically targeted Palestinian journalists in violation of international humanitarian law and failed to investigate such incidents. Al Jazeera has referred the case to the ICC, vowing to bring the killers to justice using all available legal means. Israel has dismissed this, saying that as it is not a signatory to the Rome Statute it is not subject to the court’s mandate and outside the court’s jurisdiction as Palestine is not a state. In Feb 2021, the ICC said its jurisdiction did extend to Gaza and West Bank, making it more likely the ICC can take up the issue.

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