Time for a Counterattack on the Kremlin

English: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. President Vladim...

English: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. President Vladimir Putin with Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev. Русский: МОСКВА, КРЕМЛЬ. Встреча с директором Федеральной службы безопасности Николаем Патрушевым. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 12, 2014

It’s my pleasure to offer an insightful guest post from Johan Wiktorin, former Swedish Military Intelligence and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. Follow him on Twitter: @forsvarsakerhet

In Ukraine, the cease-fire is on the ropes with daily reports of artillery-fire and shootings. It is established that the Russian Armed Forces is one of the warring factions. A couple of weeks ago, the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, acknowledged on television that Sweden had verified, supposedly by its own intelligence services, that Russian artillery was firing into Ukraine.

There are other proofs as well. In a long blogpost at Bellingcat a few days ago, journalist Iggy Ostanin showed convincingly that the individual Buk SAM-system that shot down MH17 in July has returned to Russia and resumed its place in the 53th Brigade of the Russian PVO (Air Defense Forces). Continue reading

Russia Is Testing NATO’s Resolve in Eastern Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling around for the gaps that have emerged in NATO’s defenses, and it may take more than military spending to patch them up

A few years ago, when NATO strategists would stop to consider a possible threat from Russia, their chief concern was the possibility, however slight, that the Russian state would implode, lose control of its nuclear arsenal and allow a few warheads to fall into the wrong hands. That at least was the worry Ivo Daalder expressed in the fall of 2010, when he paid a visit to Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to NATO. But on the whole, he says he just wasn’t very concerned about Russia at the time. The alliance was too busy with that year’s troop surge in Afghanistan and with newfangled threats like cyber warfare.

“As a security concern Russia wasn’t really on the agenda in 2010,” he tells TIME by phone on Friday from Chicago. “The focus with Russia was really on cooperation.” Continue reading

Turkey not asking NATO for help with ISIS


SPAIN/

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen through a viewfinder as he addresses the media during a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not pictured) in Madrid, June 12, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Susana Vera)

On June 11, NATO ambassadors gathered in an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request to discuss the rapid expansion of radical Sunni Islamist militants in northern Iraq in which they took control of Mosul and Tikrit. That same day, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spin-off group fighting in both Iraq and Syria, seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate, taking the consul general and his 48 staff members hostage. Earlier in the week, ISIS also took 31 Turkish truck drivers hostage.

Summary- Turkey briefed NATO ambassadors regarding the seizure of its Mosul consulate, but it did not ask for any NATO involvement, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be engaged directly in the hostage negotiations.

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Op-Ed: The POST “Post Cold War” Era in Europe

English: Map showing the maximum territorial e...

English: Map showing the maximum territorial extent of countries under the direct influence of the Soviet Union — between the Cuban Revolution/21st Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union/Sino-Soviet split. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 24, 2014 | Dr. Jeffrey D. McCausland

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reflects neither strategic wisdom nor military strength. In fact, it reflects just the opposite. Putin invested over $50 billion and significant personal capital in the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming G8 Summit. That has now been squandered. It was clearly humiliating for Putin to watch as the Ukrainian president he had strongly supported, if not hand-picked, was forced to flee Kiev. This was particularly true, given that President Yanukovych fled in response to a popular uprising driven by opposition to his efforts to establish closer Ukrainian relations with Russia at the expense of closer ties to Europe.

      Putin assuaged this humiliation with a military invasion of Crimea on March 1. On March 20, the Russian Parliament overwhelmingly approved a treaty presented by Putin to formally annex the Black Sea peninsula. At this juncture, it seems impossible to envision Moscow backing down, withdrawing its forces, and returning Crimea to Ukrainian control. President Obama, as well as Western European leaders, have acknowledged this reality. The so-called “post-Cold War era” has now come to a close, and the West must now confront a new European security environment. What is the nature of the new threat? What is the general outline of a new strategy for the United States and its NATO allies?
      It is important to realize that the longer-term threat posed by this new era does not herald a return to the Cold War. That “twilight struggle” had an ideological underpinning. It pitted Marxist-Leninist ideology against democracy and market economies. When Nikita Khrushchev made his famous threat, “We will bury you!” in 1956, he was not necessarily predicting imminent war so much as a belief that history was on the side of Communism. He believed that it was Communism, with its focus on a command oriented economy rather than the Soviet military, that would ultimately triumph. Continue reading

Failure in Chicago: No U.S.-Pakistan Deal on NATO Supply Lines

By Reza Jan May 22, 2012

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President Obama speaks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during the NATO summit in Chicago, May 21, 2012 (White House)

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Chicago concluded, the much hoped-for deal between the United States and Pakistan to reopen NATO supply routes through Pakistan did not materialize. In fact, hardened stances on display in Chicago on both sides chipped away at optimism that a deal may be in the offing anytime soon.

The elusive deal to open the Pakistani Ground Lines of Communication (GLOCs) appears in the end to have stumbled on a pricing issue, but it was likely a misreading by both parties of the other’s negotiating red lines and competing external and internal pressures that led to the showdown becoming the spectacle that took center stage in Chicago. Both sides will likely now re-gauge and approach the negotiating table afresh. Securing an agreement on the GLOCs is important enough to both Pakistan and the U.S. that the setback is unlikely to kill negotiating efforts altogether.  It is possible that negotiations can now be conducted in a more level-headed manner free of the artificial deadline and inflated international expectations that the Chicago summit imposed on them. The advantages to both sides of reopening the GLOCs are so great that a deal is likely at some point.  The experience of the closure and the negotiations, however, has laid bare the changed relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. The idea that the two states are real partners in a common struggle has been replaced by a naked process of horse-trading. The shift to an openly transactional relationship between Islamabad and Washington may be the most important outcome of this process.

The Last Minute Deal That Wasn’t

While a GLOCs deal between the U.S. and Pakistan started to flounder before the summit even began, in the days leading up to Chicago both sides broadcast optimism that a deal would be reached by, and even announced during, the NATO conference.

On May 15, following months of prevarication, haggling, and domestic politicking, Pakistan’s government announced that it had approved, in principle, the reopening of the NATO supply route.[1] Pakistan had shut the route nearly six months ago following a border clash on November 26, 2011 in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO aircraft after Pakistani and NATO soldiers ended up trading fire. The very same day as that announcement was made, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari received an invitation to attend the NATO summit in Chicago—an invitation that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had earlier hinted might have been withheld altogether if Pakistan did not agree to open the NATO GLOCs.[2] According to U.S. officials, the invitation was extended because the U.S. and Pakistanis had more or less reached a deal on the GLOCs.[3] The Pakistanis, however, stated that receiving the invitation to the NATO summit was the key step in reaching an agreement.[4]

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Kosovo & Pristina doesn’t really want negotiations on the north

Map of Kosovo UNMIK Mission

Map of Kosovo UNMIK Mission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted on May 22nd, 2012

The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office suggests that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River.

By Gerard M. Gallucci

The May 17 arrest of a young Serb employee of UNMIK’s north Mitrovica office removes any good reason for resisting the judgement that the Kosovo Albanians have no intention of accepting a negotiated outcome for the region north of the Ibar River. They do not want negotiations on the north, they just want the north. So, to head off any possibility of having to accept compromise, they will provoke the Serbs there into refusing to deal with them.

The young man arrested frequently travelled to visit family in the mixed north Mitrovica village of Suvi Do. To get there, he’d have to pass through an Albanian area. At that point, he would also have to pass by a unit of the so-called “regional” Kosovo police that EULEX allows free reign in this sensitive area. His routines were known. He could have been stopped at any time, as any of the Serbs living there can be. The decision to arrest him at this point on “suspicion” that he was involved in a demonstration in April to prevent the Kosovo Albanian police from setting up another provocative checkpoint – where there had just been a deadly explosion – was clearly political. (EULEX has still not managed to release any information on who might have been responsible for the explosion.) Many, many Serbs turned out for this. The targeting of a local UNMIK employee also allowed Pristina to take another shot at the UN office in north Mitrovica.

A cynic might say that the arrest was Pristina’s way of “recruiting” Serbs to take part in its “dialogue” over the north that it plans to unilaterally launch in September. The truth, however, is more basic than that. The Kosovo Albanians do not want to negotiate over the north, they want to have their “rule of law” imposed there so that they can use it to enforce more “returns” and eventually push the Serbs out entirely. They expected the internationals to do this for them; first UNMIK, then the ICO and EULEX. Having failed in that, they have mounted steady provocations since July 2011. Now they see the internationals pushing them to talk with the northern Serbs. So they provoke the Serbs, either to set off violence that they can use to justify new repression or to simply strengthen the hands of those Serbs opposed to talks.

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Pakistan orders US to close Shamsi airbase

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Pakistan orders US to close Shamsi airbase

© RIA Novosti. Evgeni Pakhomov

23:34 26/11/2011

MOSCOW, November 26 (RIA Novosti)

Tags: NATO, Afghanistan, United States, Pakistan

Pakistani authorities on Saturday gave the United States 15 days to leave the Shamsi airbase, and closed NATO supply lines into Afghanistan in response to a deadly NATO air strike, the DawnNews TV channel reported.

The Federal Cabinet’s Defense Committee said no compromise would be made on the country’s sovereignty and security.

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