Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Stephen Cohen on the NATO siege of Russia

NATO Besieges Russia. Exxon-Mobil Breaks the Siege

Stephen F. Cohen, NYU, Princeton University.

Listen to podcast HERE


(Photo: Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp, attends the 12th St. Petersburg International )

NATO Besieges Russia. Exxon-Mobil Breaks the Siege. Stephen F. Cohen, NYU, Princeton University.

“…We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multinational battalions in the Baltic states and in Poland,” said the Secretary General. He underlined that these battalions are part of a much bigger shift in NATO’s defence and deterrence posture, including a larger NATO Response Force, a new Spearhead Force and 8 new small headquarters in the eastern part of the Alliance. “All together this strikes the right balance between a greater ability to reinforce, and boost our forward presence,” he dded.

NATO has also taken action to ensure that Allied troops can move faster across Europe, for exercises or reinforcements, if needed. “Last month, the Spearhead Force conducted an exercise which showed how far we have come. One thousand troops and four hundred military vehicles moved from Spain to Poland within four days,” said Mr. Stoltenberg. He stressed that NATO will continue to work to improve freedom of movement for Allied troops and equipment, because speed can make the difference when a crisis emerges.

The Secretary General underscored that Allies must spend more on defence to sustain this shift in NATO’s defence posture. He highlighted that, following a long decline in defence spending, 2015 was the first year after many when the Alliance registered a small increase in defence spending. “Our estimates for 2016 show a further increase,” said Mr. Stoltenberg. The annual real change stands at around 1.5 percent, an increase of over 3 billion dollars, with twenty Allies planning to spend more on defence in real terms this year. “So this is real progress. After many years of going in the wrong direction, we are starting to go into the right direction,” he said.


“…Tillerson's presence is particularly significant because he will be the most high-profile representative of U.S. business at a time when Washington is taking a harder line than Europe on the need to keep sanctions in place.

Tillerson is among other oil major chief executives on the forum agenda, including Robert Dudley of BP, Claudio Descalzi from ENI, Schlumberger’s Paal Kibsgaard and Patrick Pouyanne of Total.

Listen to podcast HERE

Other stories from today - 

***Together against NATO: Russia moves forces to Belarusian-Ukrainian border***

And one of them, the mother of all drones, the massive Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, was apparently commandeered by Russian electronic warfare and landed in Simferopol

This is the article mentioned by Stephen Cohen

On ‘Russian Assertiveness’ in Foreign Policy (Vladimir Brovkin)

June 14, 2016

Most Russians today, as demonstrated by numerous public opinion polls, believe that the West has encroached on their traditional territory and in the case of Ukraine that the West usurped what many believe is a part of the nation, one nation. Yes many including Lavrov said that Ukraine and Russian are one nation. Western oriented, democracy loving intelligentsia types, who in 1989 chanted For Your Freedom and Ours, hailing independence of Baltic states from the Soviet Union, let alone common folks believe that the West took advantage of them, they feel betrayed, that instead of embracing Russia is one European democratic community after 1991, the West took what was Russia’s by right and history and included in into its sphere of influence economically and militarily. To an Russian intellectual who had always regarded Russia as a part of Europe, the idea that Ukraine can be a part of Europe and Russia is not is a preposterous insult. Moreover, after WWII the idea that Berlin and Washington make decisions for the Ukrainian government causes rage, anger, and desire to put an end to it now.

President Putin’s foreign policy is still a desperate attempt to hold on to the spirit of 2003- 2005 when Russia, France and Germany together opposed the US war in Iraq. He still nostalgically remembers when Russia and major powers of Western Europe charted a course of creating one Europe from Portugal to Vladivostok in 2005. Putin still does not want to let go of this dream. Hence the Minsk accords and very feeble reaction to NATO arrogance.

That is why he has been reacting to Western offensive, as Stephen Cohen has pointed out numerous times. Putin was reacting to Western takeover of Ukraine by very feeble response of safeguarding Crimea and Russian military base there and providing lukewarm support to Donbass, always seeking a way to restore normal relations with Western Europe.

This course, this feeble assertiveness has encountered a growing opposition lately. In public debates on channel One one can hear open criticism of Lavrov for the lack of defense of Donbas. Some openly argue for a march sterner approach.

Let me tell you what an assertive Russian policy would have looked like. On Georgia, Russia would not have stopped after liberating South Ossetia and would have marched into Tbilisi and installed a friendly regime actually as the US had done numerous times in what it called its backyard in Central America.

On Ukraine, Russia could have refused to recognize a Maidan government as illegitimate, a product of a coup d’etat and sent in the troops to support legitimate government of duly elected President Yanukovych. Some participants in the numerous channel one debates advocated creating a Ukrainian Liberation Army, that would have been openly not secretly supported by the Russian army.

That army they argued should have driven the Maidan Bandera scum out of Kiev, allowed them to secede in Western Ukraine, their hub and declared to the West that West Ukraine its protectorate, a no fly zone for NATO.

This is just for starters. You want to continue OK Here is some more assertive policy.

In response to missiles in Romania Russia should install medium range missiles in Transnistria region targeting American missiles.

That, my dear friends, would have been an assertive foreign policy. Moreover if you listen to debates on channel one of Russia TV you will learn that that kind of policy including possible stern action in regard to Poland,Lithuania and others whom they call taitors, would have looked like.

So President Putin is a Westernizer, a Petersburg Europe friendly leader. If you think he is aggressive, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Vladimir Brovkin taught at Harvard University for 9 years and at Urals University in Russia for 5 years. He holds a PhD in History from Princeton.

I think this is the report John Batchelor makes reference when talking about Brexit

EU referendum: Is Putin betting on a Brexit? BBC News

Unlike many other world leaders, Russia's president Vladimir Putin has kept quiet about Britain's upcoming referendum on its membership of the EU. The BBC's Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg has been finding out more.

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