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Topic: Russia-- Europe (Read 16328 times)
Gas pipeline project to Bulgaria halted
Reply #100 on:
July 01, 2014, 09:35:33 AM »
Pressure builds on France to not proceed with warships sale to Russia
Reply #101 on:
July 25, 2014, 12:32:53 PM »
Check out the picture of one of the ships.
I'm calling BS on the parity of our sales to Egypt.
Stratfor: Pilsudki's Europe
Reply #102 on:
August 09, 2014, 01:06:06 PM »
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 03:22 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan
By Robert D. Kaplan
Russia's geopolitical threat to Central and Eastern Europe should have everyone's mind rushing in the direction of a protean Polish revolutionary, statesman and military leader, Jozef Pilsudski, and his concept of the Intermarium -- Latin for "between the seas;" Miedzymorze in Polish. This was a belt of independent states from the Baltic to the Black seas that would work in unison against Russian tyranny from the east and German tyranny from the west. While geopolitics may be about the impersonal influence of geography upon international relations, human agency still applies, so that the idea of an individual Pole from the early 20th century could provide a means for defending freedom in our own era.
Pilsudski dominated Polish affairs from the middle of World War I until his death in 1935. In the words of the late British-educated academic Alexandros Petersen, Pilsudski was from a "staunchly Polonized" family of "disestablished nobility" that had held lands in present-day Lithuania and originally owed its position to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the great powers of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. The destruction of that colossal geopolitical force at the hands of invaders from both east and west provided the motivation behind Pilsudski's vision of a belt of small states to hold in check both Russia and Germany. It was not an altogether new idea. The British geographer Halford Mackinder had proposed something similar a few years earlier in 1919. But whereas Mackinder was only a well-known scholar writing in a book, Pilsudski was a dynamic political leader.
Pilsudski's vision was a product not only of his family history but also of his own bloody experience. He had saved Poland from invading Soviet forces in 1920 in the midst of a number of border wars and went on to become the primary founder of the Second Polish Republic in 1926. Pilsudski's belief in a multicultural Poland to encompass his own Lithuanian background played well with his expansive vision of this anti-Russian belt of states that was, in turn, a spiritual and territorial descendant of that vast tract of territory that had constituted the late medieval and early modern Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which stretched at its zenith from the shivering flatlands of northeastern Europe to the confines of the Ottoman Empire -- in present-day Ukraine.
Pilsudski's realization that the independence of the Baltic states, the Balkans and Ukraine was central to Poland's own security lives on today in the country's post-Cold War foreign policy. To wit, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has been publicly tireless and ever-present in pushing NATO and the European Union toward a tougher stance against Russian President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea. Of course, the European Union's expansion to include Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, together with their incorporation into NATO, has represented the partial institutionalization of Pilsudski's idea -- even if Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the countries of the Caucasus lie stranded in the neither-nor geopolitical landscape of the European Union's Eastern Partnership, which offers insufficient protection against the designs of Russia.
But while danger lurks in the east, the west is less worrisome. For Germany has emerged as a benevolent giant, satisfied with its borders and providing the engine for the European economy. Thus, despite Putin's Revanchism, the European security environment still contains more possibilities than at any time since some of those comparatively dull 19th century decades following the 1814-1815 Congress of Vienna. Of course, the relative peace of the 19th century had lulled Europeans into the false sense of security common to all people who have lost their sense of the tragic. And because a sense of the tragic is necessary to avoid tragedy, the result was World War I.
Poland and Romania are two pivotal countries that need no lessons in cultivating the sense of the tragic, for both have long been borderlands between stronger states and imperial forces coming from the east and west. And it is Poland and Romania, the two largest NATO states in northeastern and southeastern Europe respectively, that are crucial to the emergence of an effective Intermarium to counter Russia. Together they practically link the Baltic with the Black Sea.
Though they appear distinctly separated on the current map (even as both countries can claim whole or partial membership in Mitteleuropa), the shadow of Poland has in the course of history crept well into Romanian lands. While a traveler must cross the winding Carpathians twice to get from one country's capital to the other, Poland and Romania have at times been closer than you might think. For example, in the Romanian town of Targu Neamt, I craned my neck up at the citadel that had been conquered by Polish forces under King John III Sobieski in 1691. Lionized by English poet John Milton and praised by military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, Sobieski waged war against the Moslem Turks far away to the south from his native Poland and Ukraine in epic campaigns that helped save the Austrian Habsburgs and thus the Christian West. Sobieski's distant forays southward toward the shadowlands of the Black Sea were certainly part of Pilsudski's mental map -- a map that is still critical to Europe's future as a liberal Western dynamo.
Indeed, during a recent visit to Romania, the president, the president's national security adviser and the prime minister all told me in separate meetings that Poland and Turkey were critical countries for Romania in light of the Ukrainian crisis. Throughout my stay in Bucharest, calls for closer relations with Warsaw and Ankara as part of an anti-Russian alliance were made explicit. While Pilsudski's vision of an Intermarium extended from Finland to Bulgaria, an expanded version fitted to 21st century geopolitical realities would naturally include Turkey and the Caucasus. Turkey is the geographical organizing principle for half of the Black Sea and Azerbaijan's vast hydrocarbon wealth gives it the financial and political leverage to keep Russia from wholly dominating the Caucasus, now that Armenia hosts thousands of Russian troops and Georgia is under threat.
The new Intermarium is still far from crystalizing. Turkey is compromised by its appetite for Russian natural gas via the Blue Stream pipeline. Bulgarian and Serbian politics are heavily influenced by Russian money, criminal networks and -- like Turkey -- the need for Russian natural gas. Romania looks south to Bulgaria and rather than see an ally, sees a weak, at times chaotic state trying to steer a middle path between Russia and the European Union. And while Romania sees Poland as a more powerful, more economically vibrant and strongly institutionalized version of itself -- one that cuts a larger profile in the world media -- Poland looks south to Romania and sees merely a burdensome, weaker and more corrupt state than itself.
Nevertheless, a trend is discernible. High-level meetings between the Intermarium countries have intensified, as the Pentagon and State Department act as hubs for all these countries' militaries, intelligence services and diplomatic corps to interact. Stronger U.S. support to Eastern and Central Europe must be matched by stronger bilateral ties between the countries themselves -- to say nothing of increased defense expenditures in the region. This is all a function of geography that Mackinder and especially Pilsudski were the first to address. Pilsudski knew from his own experience that geography is only destiny if you don't turn it to your advantage. The real balance of power should not be a cynical formulation of the status quo between America and Russia, but a bulwark of democracies blocking the path of tyranny.
Read more: Pilsudski's Europe | Stratfor
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Three things to do right now
Reply #103 on:
September 03, 2014, 09:40:07 AM »
About fg time! What about the other one? What about CANCELLING both?!?
Reply #104 on:
September 03, 2014, 11:13:08 PM »
France will halt its delivery of the first of two Mistral amphibious assault ships to Russia in response to Russia's involvement in the crisis in Ukraine, a Sept. 3 statement from French President Francois Hollande said, Reuters reported. France had been reluctant to halt the sale of the ships because the contract with Russia was worth $1.58 billion.
How fg feeble-- looks like French are still looking for a way to make the sale
Reply #105 on:
September 04, 2014, 06:10:47 AM »
France Threatens to Suspend Warship Delivery to Russia, Citing Ukraine
Under Pressure from Western Allies, Hollande Shifts Rhetoric on Moscow Defense Deal
By Inti Landauro in Paris and
Stacy Meichtry in Newport, Wales
Updated Sept. 3, 2014 8:14 p.m. ET
The Vladivostok, the first of two Mistral-class warships ordered for the Russian navy, awaits delivery in the French shipyard of Saint-Nazaire. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
France backed off from plans to deliver a controversial warship to Russia next month, saying that the Kremlin's support of breakaway forces in eastern Ukraine endangered Europe.
The threat to suspend the delivery marks a shift in rhetoric from Paris, which had insisted on moving ahead with a €1.2 billion ($1.58 billion) contract to supply two ships to the Russian navy despite pressure from Western allies to cancel the deal.
Despite talks over a possible cease-fire in Ukraine, "the conditions that would allow France to authorize the delivery of the first Mistral-class ship aren't met as of now," President François Hollande's office said.
Moscow shrugged off France's decision. "The Defense Ministry doesn't see a particular tragedy in this," Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told the official Tass news agency. "But it is, of course, unpleasant and puts a certain tension in the interactions with our French partners."
France issued the warning a day ahead of a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the Welsh town of Newport, during which members of the military alliance are expected to discuss how to contain Russia.
The carefully worded statement, though, left open the possibility that France could complete the delivery on schedule if Russia pulls back from its intervention in Ukraine and moves to calm the crisis.
As the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists has escalated in recent months—and despite objections by the U.S. and other allies—the French government had insisted the program was on track.
In July, days after the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine—Mr. Hollande floated the possibility that he might cancel the delivery of the second vessel, scheduled for 2015, but said Paris was forging ahead with plans to supply the first ship in October.
In possibly delaying the first delivery, French officials said they aimed to shore up the country's credibility with allies heading into this week's NATO summit, where members of the alliance are gathering in a show of unity.
Paris, for months, had defended its plans to deliver the ships as merely the fulfillment of an international contract, arguing that its possible cancellation would force France to reimburse Moscow for the costly ships and place more than a thousand French jobs at risk.
But Russia's decision to send troops and supplies into eastern Ukraine to fight alongside separatists, French officials say, raised the stakes.
While Moscow has denied sending any support to the rebels, French officials said they had proof of a Russian incursion, which they declined to disclose.
Mr. Hollande would have faced a dilemma of "coherence," one French official said, if he moved forward with the warship delivery as NATO allies were gathering to discuss ways to rein in Moscow and defend European borders.
On Tuesday, French officials called Washington and other allied capitals to notify them of the potential suspension and provide reassurances ahead of the summit, the official said. "We do think that was a wise decision," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said of France's threat to stop the warship delivery. "We certainly support their decision."
While France is weighing options, a group of about 400 Russian seamen continues training on board the first Mistral, named Vladivostok, off the French port city of Saint-Nazaire, a person familiar with the matter said.
Earlier this week, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen refrained from exercising direct pressure on Paris but said he expected shows of solidarity from members of the alliance.
"It is not for NATO as an alliance to interfere with such national decisions," Mr. Rasmussen said Monday. "Having said that, I am confident that each and every allied government will take such decisions mindful of the overall security situation and concerns expressed by fellow allies."
The two Mistral-class carriers ordered by Moscow are capable of launching helicopter, tank and missile attacks from the sea and would boost the military might of the Russian forces.
The contract is important for the French shipyard located in Saint-Nazaire on the French Atlantic Coast, which has counted on the Russian order to help stay afloat.
Re: Russia-- Europe
Reply #106 on:
September 05, 2014, 11:17:18 AM »
George Will very persuasively asserts that Putin represents a greater threat than ISIS. (I would arguess that both represent grave threats.)
Vladimir Putin’s Hitlerian Mind
The Russian president’s fascist revival in Eastern Europe poses a unique threat to the West.
By George Will
The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.
Putin’s serial amputations of portions of Ukraine, which began with his fait accompli in Crimea, will proceed, and succeed, until his appetite is satiated. Then the real danger will begin.
Suppose Ukraine is merely his overture for the destruction of NATO, the nemesis of his Soviet memory. Then what might be his version of the Gleiwitz radio-station episode 75 years ago?
On the evening of August 31, 1939, Nazi SS personnel pretending to be Polish partisans seized the station, which was about four miles inside Germany (Gliwice is now in Poland), proclaiming that Poland was invading Germany to achieve “our just [territorial] claims,” and shot a German prisoner dressed in a stolen Polish uniform, giving Hitler his pretext for declaring war the next day.
Putin has discarded the minor inhibitions of what NATO calls his “hybrid war” — giving slightly surreptitious aid to Russian separatists; brazenly infiltrating Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms. Russia has invaded Ukraine, although the Obama administration likes the semantic anesthesia of calling it an “incursion.” Putin does not pretend that it will be, like President Nixon’s 1970 “incursion” into Cambodia, temporary.
So, suppose Putin, reprising his Ukrainian success, orchestrates unrest among the Russian-speaking minorities in Latvia, Lithuania, or Estonia. Then, recycling Hitler’s words that his country “could not remain inactive,” Putin invades one of these NATO members. Either NATO invokes Article 5 — an attack on any member is an attack on all — or NATO disappears and the Soviet Union, NATO’s original raison d’être, is avenged.
Although no one more thoroughly detested Hitler’s regime that General Erwin Rommel served, Winston Churchill acknowledged in January 1942 in the House of Commons the talent of Britain’s enemy: “We have a very daring and skillful opponent against us, and, may I say across the havoc of war, a great general.” Putin is, the West should similarly acknowledge, more talented and dangerous than either Nikita Khrushchev or Leonid Brezhnev. Their truculence was not fueled by fury. Putin’s essence is anger. It is a smoldering amalgam of resentment (of Russia’s diminishment because of the Soviet Union’s collapse), revanchist ambitions (regarding formerly Soviet territories and spheres of influence), cultural loathing (for the pluralism of open societies), and ethnic chauvinism that presages “ethnic cleansing” of non-Russians from portions of Putin’s expanding Russia.
This is more than merely the fascist mind; its ethnic-cum-racial component makes it Hitlerian. Hence Putin is “unpredictable” only to those unfamiliar with the 1930s. Regarding the roles of resentment and vengeance, remember where Hitler insisted that France formally capitulate in 1940 — in the railroad carriage near the town of Compiègne, where Germany signed the 1918 armistice.
Since its emancipation by the Soviet Union’s demise, Ukraine has been ravaged by corruption that frays national sentiment, which even before this was a tenuous phenomenon. In The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century, David Reynolds of Cambridge University cites a British diplomat’s 1918 analysis:
Were one to ask the average peasant in the Ukraine his nationality, he would answer that he is Greek Orthodox; if pressed to say whether he is a Great Russian, a Pole, or an Ukrainian he would probably reply that he is a peasant; and if one insisted on knowing what language he spoke, he would say that he talked “the local tongue.”
Ukraine may be an ethnic casserole susceptible to diminishment by Putin’s ladle. But the Baltic States, by virtue of their NATO membership, are, regardless of their histories or sociologies, decisively different. And given Putin’s animus, nourished by his negligibly resisted success in Ukraine, he is more dangerous than the Islamic State.
This group is perhaps 20,000 fighters possessing some artillery and armor but no air force. It is an island of tenuously occupied territory in a sea of hostile regimes — those of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Iraq’s Kurdish region, which has its own regime. These command approximately 2 million troops who, with ample air power, can pulverize the Islamic State whenever the regimes summon the will to do so.
U.S. participation in this should be conditional on the regional powers’ putting their militaries where their mouths (sometimes) are in the fight against radical Islamists. U.S. participation in defense of the Baltic States is unconditional.
— George Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist.
ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus
Reply #107 on:
September 05, 2014, 11:43:28 AM »
News from a couple of days ago:
ISIS threatens to 'liberate' Chechnya and Caucasus
Interesting that our two greatest enemies will soon be at war with each other.
One might take from this that a post-Putin Russia could very easily or at least logically become a strategic ally of the United States.
Stratfor: NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares
Reply #108 on:
October 17, 2014, 07:21:02 AM »
Against Russia's New Military Strategy, NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares
October 16, 2014 | 0415 Print Text Size
Members of the U.S. Army 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, unload Stryker Armored Vehicles at the railway station near the Rukla military base in Lithuania, on Oct. 4, 2014. (PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said Oct. 15 that she would push to limit Russian television broadcasts inside the country. The statement came only two days after Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Jonas Vytautas Zukas announced plans to form a new rapid reaction force in Lithuania. These moves highlight Lithuania's mounting concerns over the threat Russia poses to the small but strategic country, particularly in light of Moscow's recent actions in Ukraine.
The Lithuanian president's plan to limit Russian media follows similar trends emerging in other Baltic states. The creation of the rapid reaction force, however, represents a new strategy. Zukas said that Lithuania must be ready for "unconventional attacks by unmarked combatants" -- a thinly veiled reference to Russia's actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Vilnius' plan will not be sufficient to counter potential Russian moves against Lithuania. It is instead an initial response to an evolving security environment in which the conventional Russian military threat to the Baltic states is overshadowed by that of hybrid warfare, which includes the use of proxies, special forces and information campaigns.
In his statement, Zukas said Lithuania's rapid reaction forces would consist of 2,500 troops from Lithuania's 7,000-person military. These troops would be placed on high alert beginning in November and would have the capacity to mobilize within two to 24 hours. Their mission would be to counter unconventional security threats such as attacks by unofficial armed groups, illegal border crossings and the foreign manipulation of national minorities.
Lithuania formulated this rapid reaction plan within the context of the ongoing standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine -- a conflict that has spread throughout the former Soviet periphery. The Baltic states are on the front lines of this broader conflict and are particularly concerned about Russian encroachment into their territory because of their small size and close proximity to the Russian heartland. This is especially concerning because the Baltic states, particularly Lithuania, have been strong supporters of Ukraine's efforts to integrate with the West, putting them squarely in Moscow's sights.
There has already been a great deal of Russian activity inside the Baltic states and the area surrounding them. Russia has built up its forces near St. Petersburg and in the exclave of Kaliningrad, both of which border Baltic states. Moscow has also increased the scale of its military exercises in both areas, while the Russian minorities in several Baltic states have held pro-Russia demonstrations. The rallies are of particular concern because of the size of the Russian minority populations: 24.8 percent of the population in Estonia, 26.9 percent in Latvia, and 5.8 percent in Lithuania. Cross-border incidents between the Baltic states and Russia have also been on the rise in recent months. The Russian coast guard detained a Lithuanian fishing boat, and Russian officials held an Estonian official in custody for allegedly crossing the border on a spying mission, a charge Estonia denied.
The Baltic states see these recent actions in the context of the events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, where Moscow's support for demonstrations eventually led to the deployment of Russian military and unofficial militant forces. This has given way to concerns that the Baltics could be the next target for hybrid warfare. As NATO members protected by the Article 5 collective defense clause, the Baltics are somewhat insulated from a Russian conventional military threat. The classification of a threat as subject to Article 5, however, requires a unanimous NATO council vote. This leaves effective defense of the Baltics subject to Western Europe's political will to intervene. A rapid NATO response would be even more doubtful in the case of hybrid or asymmetrical warfare. The Baltic states have called for a permanent NATO military presence within their territory. Instead, NATO and the United States have only stepped up troop rotations for joint exercises and military training to a semi-permanent basis.
Lithuania's decision to organize its own rapid reaction force is an effort to build the capacity to preemptively counter or contain Russian actions and reassure the public that the government is taking concrete action. Given Russia's larger security forces and broader financial resources, however, Lithuania's new force is unlikely to fully neutralize the threat. Maintaining more than a third of Lithuania's forces at that level of readiness will require substantial resources, raising questions about the initiative's long-term sustainability. At best, the plan supplements NATO's efforts, which include launching the bloc's own rapid reaction forces that can be deployed to the Baltics, Poland or Romania. Lithuania will continue to call for a greater U.S. and NATO commitment to regional security.
For its part, Russia will likely continue to use the same methods of hybrid warfare it implemented in Ukraine to project power regionally. Lithuania's creation of a rapid reaction force is simply an acknowledgement of this reality and the need to confront it in a more flexible and creative manner.
Read more: Against Russia's New Military Strategy, NATO Wavers as Lithuania Prepares | Stratfor
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