Author Topic: Russia/US-- Europe  (Read 66185 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Russian military maneuvers in Belarus
« Reply #150 on: August 01, 2017, 01:44:16 PM »
Russia is planning several days of military maneuvers in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, The New York Times reported Aug. 1. Estimates of the numbers of troops likely to be involved in the September exercises range from 13,000 — according to Russia — to as many as 100,000. The drills have been planned for several months and are not a direct reaction to threats of new U.S. economic sanctions. The Kremlin is trying to reach an understanding with the West over Russia's sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union.

================================================

WSJ:


By Orde F. Kittrie
July 31, 2017 7:05 p.m. ET
126 COMMENTS

The U.S. spends heavily to defend Europe, yet most North Atlantic Treaty Organization members don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense, as the alliance’s guidelines call for. Worse, many of these free riders also punish U.S. companies for manufacturing weapons used by the Pentagon to defend NATO allies and other countries. Specifically, several NATO member governments have divested from or even criminalized the purchase of stock in U.S. defense contractors.

Between 2005 and 2013 Norway’s government pension fund divested from U.S. defense contractors such as Boeing , Honeywell , Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman “because they are involved in production of nuclear weapons.” The fund, controlled by Norway’s Finance Ministry, is worth some $900 billion. At the end of 2015, approximately $180 billion was invested in 2,099 American companies.

Norway, a NATO member, divested even though these companies produce nuclear weapons only for the U.S. government, and NATO’s 2012 Deterrence and Defence Posture Review describes U.S. nuclear weapons as “the supreme guarantee” of members’ security. The hypocrisy goes further: In 2016 Norway authorized its pension fund to invest in Iranian government bonds—even though Iran has sponsored terrorism for decades and is a patron of Bashar Assad’s atrocities in Syria.

So far only Norway has divested from companies for producing nuclear weapons. But the government pension funds of Denmark, France and the Netherlands have joined Norway in divesting from American companies that produce other weapons stocked by the U.S. military. These countries have targeted General Dynamics , Raytheon and Textron for manufacturing cluster munitions and land mines, in some cases after production reportedly has stopped.

Six European countries—NATO members Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain, plus nonmember Liechtenstein—make it illegal for their nationals to invest in companies that produce cluster munitions or land mines. In Switzerland, citizens can be imprisoned for five years for direct and indirect financing, including stock purchases, of companies that manufacture nuclear weapons, cluster munitions or land mines.

While these weapons often pose a threat to civilians even after conflicts end, the U.S. government deems them necessary. The Obama administration acknowledged in 2014 that land mines are needed to protect South Korea. The State Department has long said the elimination of cluster munitions “from U.S. stockpiles would put the lives of its soldiers and those of its coalition partners at risk.”

Many NATO governments joined the 2008 international treaty to ban cluster munitions and the 1997 agreement to forbid land mines. Boycotts targeting companies producing these weapons derive from expansive interpretations of particular provisions in these accords. Both treaties say that “never under any circumstances” will a country “assist, encourage, or induce” anyone to engage in activities such as the development or production of the banned weapons.

The treaty banning nuclear weapons, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on July 7, includes similar language. Many of the 122 governments that voted for the nuclear treaty will likely divest from and criminalize purchase of stock in nuclear-weapons manufacturers. No NATO government supported the nuclear ban treaty. Yet Norway’s divestment from stock in nuclear-weapons manufacturers shows the fervor generated by movements against disfavored weapons can spur such boycotts even if a country ultimately doesn’t support the treaty.

The danger of European economic warfare against Israel—including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement—deservedly has received considerable attention. In contrast, European economic warfare against U.S. companies for implementing U.S. government policy has avoided the spotlight and elicited virtually no response from Washington. This must change. The targeted U.S. firms together employ hundreds of thousands of American workers. For allied governments to penalize such companies for filling U.S. government orders is unacceptable. It could even increase costs to the U.S. taxpayer, who ultimately would pay extra legal or financing costs associated with producing these weapons.

If left unchecked, this problem will grow. Norway’s pension fund has divested from Wal-Mart , America’s largest employer, for “serious violations of human rights,” according to the fund’s website. The fund has also divested from two U.K. companies for producing Britain’s nuclear arsenal and one Israeli company for involvement with Israel’s antiterrorism fence.

Congress and the executive branch should spotlight, and vigorously oppose, ally and partner government boycotts that target the defense industrial base of the U.S. and key allies such as Israel and the U.K. Governments must know that such boycotts, if continued, will subject them and their companies to commensurate penalties.

Mr. Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is author of “Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War” (Oxford, 2016).

ccp

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what is trump thinking?
« Reply #151 on: August 02, 2017, 05:54:54 AM »
Can anyone think of ANYTHING that Trump could be thinking in "restoring relations with Russia".
since when has the US ever been close to Russia?
And how could we be?  What is god's name is Trump thinking?

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/president-trump-not-very-happy-russia-sanctions-bill-052305558--abc-news-topstories.html

ccp

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Good job DJT
« Reply #152 on: August 02, 2017, 08:23:30 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: The Russian Alternative for Germany
« Reply #153 on: October 16, 2017, 08:43:46 AM »


Oct. 16, 2017 Either through alliance or conquest, Russia is an alternative to the U.S. and EU.

By George Friedman

Last week, a delegation of executives from major German corporations met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Such delegations are unremarkable. Sometimes they travel together to meet with foreign leaders. It is sometimes routine, sometimes a courtesy. But occasionally, it has significance. In the case of Russia-Germany relations, such meetings are always potentially significant.

Unsteady Relations

There are two relationships that are central to Germany. One is with the European Union, the other is with the United States. Neither relationship is stable right now. Brexit, the Spanish crisis, German feuding with Poland and the unsolved economic problems of southern Europe are tearing at the fabric of the European Union. The Germans and the EU apparatus claim that none of these threaten the fundamental health of the bloc, and point to the fact that, almost a decade after 2008, Europe appears to be achieving very modest economic growth.

The Germans, of course, know the dangers that lie ahead, even if Brussels does not. Many of the EU’s problems are political, not economic. Poland and Germany have butted heads over the tension between the right to national self-determination and EU rules. This is also what Brexit was about. Spain is locked in a dispute over the nature of a nation and the right of a region to secede, while the EU considers what role it should play in the domestic matters of a member state. And although southern Europe’s problems are economic, the fact that Europe has eked out minimal growth means neither that such growth is sustainable nor that the growth rate comes close to solving the Continent’s deep structural problems. As the de facto leader of the EU, Germany has to appear confident while considering the implications of failure.

The German relationship with the United States is at least as unsettled – and not just because of President Donald Trump’s personality. The strategic and economic situation in Europe has changed dramatically since the early 1990s – when the Soviet Union fell, Germany reunified and the all-important Maastricht treaty was signed – but Germany’s structural relationship with the U.S. has not. Both are members of NATO, but they have radically different views of its mission and its economics. Germany has the world’s fourth-largest economy, but its financial contribution to NATO doesn’t reflect that.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) attends a meeting in Sochi on Oct. 12, 2017, with heads of German companies. Chairman of the Management Board of METRO AG Olaf Koch is seen in the background. MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP/Getty Images

Then there is Russia. The American policy toward Russia has hardened since the Democratic Party adopted an intense anti-Russia stance following the presidential election – more intense even than that of the Republican Party, which has always been uneasy with Russia. The Ukraine crisis continues to fester while U.S. troops are deployed in the Baltics, Poland and Romania. This has widened rifts within the EU. Germany isn’t interested in a second Cold War; Eastern Europe believes it’s already in one. The Eastern Europeans are increasingly alienated from the Germans on the issue and more closely aligned with the Americans. At a time when German relations with key Eastern European countries are being tested, the added strain of U.S. policy in the region is a threat to German interests. Germany wants the Russia problem to subside. The U.S. and its Eastern European allies think the way to accomplish that is through confrontation.

A Most Dangerous Option

Germany’s foreign policy has remained roughly the same since 1991, even as the international reality has changed dramatically. This is forcing Germany toward a decision it doesn’t want to make. But it must consider what happens if the EU continues to disintegrate and if European foreign policy and politics continue to diverge from its own. It must consider what happens if the U.S. continues to shape the dynamics of Europe in such a way that Germany will have to confront American enemies with it, or refuse to do so. This isn’t just about Russia – we can see the same issue over Iran.

Germany can’t exist without stable economic partners. Never has it been self-sufficient since it reunified. It must explore alternatives. The most obvious alternative for Germany has always been Russia, either through alliance or conquest. Germany needs Russian raw materials. It also needs the Russian market to be far more robust than it is so that it can buy more German goods. But Russia is incapable of rapid economic development without outside help, and with the collapse of oil prices, it needs rapid development to stabilize its economy. Germany needs Russia’s economy to succeed, and what it has to offer Russia is capital, technology and management. In exchange, Russia can offer raw materials and a workforce. An alignment with Russia could settle Eastern Europe in Germany’s orbit. With the way things are going, and given Germany’s alternatives, the Russian option is expensive but potentially very profitable.

But Germany has a problem with Russia. Every previous attempt at alignment or conquest has failed. Building up the Russian economy to create a robust market for German goods would certainly benefit both countries, but it would also shift the balance of power in Europe. Right now, Germany is militarily weak and economically strong. Russia is moderately powerful militarily and economically weak. An alignment with Germany could dramatically strengthen Russia’s economy, and with it, its military power. Having moved away from the United States and de-emphasized military power in the rest of the European peninsula, Germany could find itself in its old position: vulnerable to Russian power, but without allies against Russia.

The corporate chiefs’ trip to Russia is not a groundbreaking event, nor does it mark a serious shift in German policy. But it is part of an ongoing process. As the international reality shifts from what Germany needs, Germany must find another path. In the short term, the United States is vulnerable to a cyclical recession, and hostility toward Germany is increasing in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe. China is facing internal challenges of its own. There are few other options than Russia, and Russia is historically a most dangerous option for Germany.



Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Trump's NATO progress
« Reply #156 on: July 09, 2018, 11:19:42 AM »

By The Editorial Board
July 8, 2018 6:22 p.m. ET
213 COMMENTS

President Trump will attend a summit of North Atlantic Treaty Organization national leaders this week, and the stakes are unusually high for everyone. He plans to meet Vladimir Putin shortly afterward, and Mr. Trump will be at a disadvantage if he doesn’t set the right tone in Brussels.

That tone should be a united front between America and its allies, within a NATO committed to and capable of deterring new threats. This doesn’t mean Washington must always avoid raising uncomfortable truths within the alliance. It does mean Mr. Trump should recognize how NATO benefits America, and how it can help him avoid the diplomatic traps into which his predecessor fell.
Foreign Edition Podcast
NATO Summit Preview; Merkel's Migration Compromise

The good news is that Mr. Trump is doing better on this score than many of the pearl-clutchers among foreign-policy worthies will admit. He has taken a particularly aggressive stance on defense spending among NATO members, most recently in a series of testy letters reportedly sent to other national leaders. Allies have pledged to spend at least 2% of GDP, a promise they repeated at the 2014 Wales summit. Mr. Trump is continuing a long tradition of bipartisan frustration in Washington when they don’t meet that pledge.

But Mr. Trump should also give credit where it’s due, especially when he can claim part of the credit for success. Inflation-adjusted defense spending among non-U.S. NATO members has increased each year since 2014, and at an accelerating rate that likely will deliver the largest annual spending growth since the Cold War this year. More than half of NATO’s 29 members are on track to meet their 2% pledge by 2024, compared to four or five in a typical year before 2014. Mr. Trump’s win here is keeping up the pressure for more burden sharing as memories of Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea fade.

NATO also is making important progress on the capabilities that new money buys. Since 2015 the alliance has ramped up investment in a spearhead force capable of deploying up to 5,000 troops to trouble spots within 48 hours. Now the challenge is how to mobilize larger forces if needed, and Mr. Trump has an opportunity to lead real progress.

Defense ministers last month signed off on a new “four 30s” commitment—that by 2020 NATO Allies should be able to deploy 30 troop battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 warships within 30 days. By encouraging his peers to give this plan their final endorsement, Mr. Trump can signal that the alliance is committed to being an effective deterrent.

Movements of troops across borders within NATO can still face considerable legal and bureaucratic obstacles, and cutting this red tape requires cooperation from defense ministries and interior ministries across Europe. In addition to his focus on spending, Mr. Trump could help America and the alliance by demanding firm commitments to fix this problem, perhaps with a deadline.

All of this would help Mr. Trump as he prepares to face off with Mr. Putin. The weakness in Mr. Trump’s NATO diplomacy so far, and it’s a big one, has been his willingness to denigrate the alliance, even to the point of suggesting America might withdraw from it.

Maybe that’s meant to scare other members into meeting their financial commitments, but when Mr. Putin hears the same comments they sound like a weak and fracturing West. His strategic goal is to crack the alliance so he can have a freer hand to dominate Eastern Europe and reassemble at least a de facto version of Greater Russia. He could then use his military leverage to influence diplomatic and economic decisions across Europe.

Mr. Putin snatched Crimea and invaded Ukraine because he learned over time that President Obama had no stomach for confrontation. Mr. Trump presumably isn’t eager to be humiliated in similar fashion. That is more likely to happen if he agrees to ease sanctions in return for Russian promises of good behavior, even as Mr. Putin concludes that NATO would struggle to respond to harassment of its eastern members.

Ronald Reagan knew better. His successful diplomacy with Moscow—which ended the Cold War—started with a strong commitment to Europe and friendly relations with Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Schmidt and then Helmut Kohl. His model of a willingness to negotiate, but only from a position of strength, can serve Mr. Trump well. A start will be to talk up, and expand on, NATO’s progress while renewing his commitment to the alliance.

DougMacG

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Russia/US-- Europe, More on that pipeline NS2
« Reply #157 on: July 12, 2018, 08:12:17 AM »
The Economist 2017
German Russian Pipeline smells funny to America
https://www.economist.com/europe/2017/06/22/germanys-russian-gas-pipeline-smells-funny-to-america

[Also Putin's pipeline
How reliant is Europe on Russian Gas, The Economist 2014
https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2014/04/03/putins-pipelines]
--------------------------------------------------------------
Germany’s Russian gas pipeline smells funny to America
Angela Merkel says Nord Stream 2 is no one’s business but Germany’s
Jun 22nd 2017
LIKE vinyl records and popped collars, rows between the United States and Europe over Russian energy are making a comeback. In the early 1980s Ronald Reagan’s attempts to thwart a Soviet pipeline that would bring Siberian gas to Europe irritated the West Germans and drove the French to proclaim the end of the transatlantic alliance. The cast of characters has shifted a little today, but many of the arguments are the same. In Nord Stream 2 (NS2), a proposed Russian gas pipeline, Germany sees a respectable project that will cut energy costs and lock in secure supplies. American politicians (and the ex-communist countries of eastern Europe) detect a Kremlin plot to deepen Europe’s addiction to cheap Russian gas. They decry German spinelessness.

NS2, which its backers hope will come online at the end of 2019, would supply gas directly from Russia’s Baltic coast to the German port of Greifswald, doubling the capacity of Nord Stream 1, an existing line. Its defenders, including a consortium of five European firms that will cover half its cost of €9.5bn ($10.6bn), say that it will help plug a projected gap between Europe’s stable demand for gas and declining production in the Netherlands and North Sea. Germany’s government, especially the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the junior coalition partner, shares this view. (Gerhard Schröder, a former SPD chancellor of Germany, chairs NS2’s board.) Some Germans quietly hope that NS2 could transform their country into a European energy hub.

Such arguments strike sceptics—countries like Poland and the Baltic states, energy experts at the European Commission, foreign-policy hawks and a handful of German renegades—as myopic. NS2, they say, might lower fees for Germans but raises them for eastern Europeans further down the chain. It undermines the European Union’s stated aim to diversify its sources of energy (Russia accounts for 34% of the EU’s overall gas market, but far more in some countries). It allows Gazprom, the Kremlin-backed energy giant, to bypass existing pipelines in Ukraine, depriving the Ukrainians of lucrative transit fees. By squeezing existing supply routes, NS2 might also leave Ukraine obliged to negotiate cap-in-hand with its arch-enemy (Kiev has not imported gas directly from Gazprom since 2015). Gazprom has proved willing to wage energy wars before. Why contribute to its arsenal?

To this fiery brew has now been added America’s toxic Russia politics. Earlier this month the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would, among other things, allow the Treasury to slap sanctions on foreign companies that invest in Russian pipelines. (The bill is not yet law: it awaits debate in the House of Representatives, and Donald Trump has yet to opine on its merits.) The move spooked Europe’s firms and enraged some of its politicians. “Europe’s energy supply is Europe’s business, not that of the United States of America,” thundered Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, and Austria’s chancellor, Christian Kern, in a joint statement. The pair were particularly incensed that the bill included a call to increase American exports of liquefied natural gas, implying that blocking Russian gas was partly an effort to help American energy companies. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, let it be known that she supported her minister.

The timing of the Senate bill is awful. On June 26th the EU’s 28 governments will begin debating whether to allow the European Commission to negotiate the terms of NS2 directly with Russia. Mrs Merkel argues that EU institutions have no business intruding in a purely commercial enterprise. But countries like Sweden and Denmark, which must grant environmental permits if the project is to proceed, want the commission to get involved so that they are not left alone to stare down the Kremlin. Foes of NS2, like Poland, think bringing in the commission might be a way to slow the project down. The discussion will be a fascinating test of Germany’s ability to sway opinion inside the European club.

Don’t look back to Angie

For observers who see Mrs Merkel as Vladimir Putin’s main European adversary, her stance is perhaps the biggest puzzle. The chancellor helps broker negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Against domestic and foreign opposition, she has held the line on the EU’s sanctions against Russia over its land grabs. Her strategy looked like a textbook case of European leadership, placing German interests to one side for the greater cause of EU unity and resistance to outside aggressors.

But the chancellor’s tacit yet clear support for NS2 suggests that a correction may be in order. Her commitment to Ukraine is not in doubt, and she is infuriated by Mr Putin’s lies. But Germany has never accepted the mantle of European or global leadership that so many would like to thrust upon it, especially when it comes to the politics of energy. Outsiders should not be surprised to see it behave like any other European country favouring its own consumers and firms (two of the five companies investing in NS2 are German). American intervention may only strengthen Germany’s resolve to protect its commercial interests.

Those hoping to slow NS2 would do better to look to Brussels. The commission will be happy to smother the pipeline in bureaucracy, should the EU’s governments give it a chance. Its legal brains say that EU energy law does not apply to offshore pipelines outside the internal market. But the commission dislikes NS2 and distrusts Gazprom, which it thinks abuses market dominance. “If Gazprom was Statoil [Norway’s national energy firm], we wouldn’t have a problem,” says one official.

So NS2 may yet be asked to obey parts of EU law, including third-party access to the pipeline and transparency on pricing. Ukrainian anxieties might be allayed by insisting that Gazprom commit to maintaining supply through existing pipelines after 2019, when the current contract expires. This might ease fears that NS2 will leave parts of Europe in hock to the Russians for decades to come. But before then a thousand things can go wrong.


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: NATO
« Reply #159 on: July 13, 2018, 09:01:24 AM »
With the world transfixed by the high-visibility spat between U.S. President Donald Trump and other NATO leaders about defense spending in the alliance, less attention was paid to the significant agreements struck by members during the latest summit. These agreements include the following:

    One of the most notable of the summit's achievements is the agreement to improve the readiness of NATO forces. Known as the "Four Thirties" plan, the agreement envisions having 30 additional major naval ships, 30 heavy or medium maneuver army battalions, and 30 air squadrons, with enabling forces, ready for combat within 30 days. This was a key U.S. initiative going into the summit, with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in particular emphasizing this effort to enhance NATO's overall rapid response force.
    Building on the recent setup of NATO's Atlantic and logistics commands, as well as its Multinational Division North East, Denmark, Latvia and Estonia signed into life the new Multinational Division North, with Canada, Great Britain and Lithuania on board as "contributing countries." Scheduled to reach initial operational capability in early 2019, this regional command will better focus NATO's defense of the Baltics.
    NATO also agreed to establish a Cyberspace Operations Center in Belgium to better coordinate the alliance's cyber defenses.

All of these initiatives highlight how NATO continues to make progress on improving its overall combat readiness, as well as continues to emphasize the potential for a conflict with Russia. An enhanced readiness force will allow NATO to quickly respond to a Russian attack, and the new Baltic multinational division command will cover one of the most important fronts with Russia. With Russia increasingly leveraging its cyber capabilities, the Cyberspace Operations Center is representative of how NATO is moving to put a priority on its ability to respond to Moscow's cyber operations.

DougMacG

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Re: Stratfor: NATO
« Reply #160 on: July 13, 2018, 11:11:56 AM »
"This was a key U.S. initiative going into the summit, with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis in particular emphasizing this effort to enhance NATO's overall rapid response force."


We haven't heard Mattis' name much while we had shiny objects turnover in so many other areas.  It probably means he is doing his job and has won the President's confidence.  This is a big accomplishment, committing these countries to defense and readiness.

Crafty_Dog

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G M

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Re: Spengler: NATO's problem is that Euro won't fight.
« Reply #162 on: July 14, 2018, 05:32:48 PM »
http://www.atimes.com/article/natos-problem-is-that-europeans-wont-fight/

They can’t be bothered to interfere with the muzzie rape gangs roaming their cities. We should pull out and let them go to their fate.

Crafty_Dog

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G M

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Re: Proposal to move US troops from Germany to Poland
« Reply #165 on: July 15, 2018, 07:09:22 PM »
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-30/why-the-u-s-should-move-its-troops-from-germany-to-poland

We should.


I wonder if German Hillary every thinks about her status as the second worst German leader in history.

« Last Edit: July 15, 2018, 07:25:32 PM by G M »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #166 on: July 15, 2018, 08:32:22 PM »
The logic is there viz the Germans, but what consequences viz our dealings with the Russians (cyber, Syria/Iran, Ukraine, elsewhere)?

G M

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #167 on: July 16, 2018, 05:59:00 AM »
The logic is there viz the Germans, but what consequences viz our dealings with the Russians (cyber, Syria/Iran, Ukraine, elsewhere)?


Poland is an actual friend, Germany is not. Protect your friends.

DougMacG

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #168 on: July 16, 2018, 08:23:34 AM »
The logic is there viz the Germans, but what consequences viz our dealings with the Russians (cyber, Syria/Iran, Ukraine, elsewhere)?

Poland is an actual friend, Germany is not. Protect your friends.

The main threat of Russian aggression would tend to be in the Balkans. Poland is much closer. Better ABM location. Friendlier to the US. More effective overall and probably less expensive.

The objection to the Russian gas pipeline is real. Why defend a country in bed with the threat. A waste of our resources.

rickn

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #169 on: July 16, 2018, 04:45:39 PM »
Today, Trump said that the collusion claims between Russia and his campaign have impeded current Russia-US relations.  The media reports it as the entire Mueller investigation has impeded current US-Russia relations.  No.  Just the collusion narrative.

Trump's statement about giving him a reason to believe his DNI assessment or Putin's claim of denial struck me as saying that neither side has proven themselves to be more credible than the other.  Especially when federal government investigators never seized Clinton's servers but relied upon a third party assessment of the intrusions allegedly made on it by Russian GRU agents.  For defense lawyers, there would be a huge chain of custody issue here since the government would be presenting hearsay evidence about what intrusions occurred on that server instead of the best evidence itself, the server itself.

The "both sides have caused relations to deteriorate is true."  What was the US involvement in the orange uprising in Ukraine in 2004?  What was the US involvement in the 2014 events in Ukraine that caused a change in government there? 

This does not mean that Putin is a good guy or a victim.  He isn't.  But it does mean that when you are trying to thaw diplomatic relations, you don't stand up there and berate your opponent in public. 

Nor does this mean that Trump himself spoke in a classically diplomatic way.  He did not. 

It should be noted that Putin received nothing from the US at Helsinki other than a promise to talk some more.  They did not even get a lousy reset button this time.


Crafty_Dog

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GPF
« Reply #171 on: August 19, 2018, 08:53:21 AM »
GPF Staff |August 18, 2018
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A four-way summit with Germany, France, Russia and Turkey may soon take place. And it appears that their opposition to U.S. policy is a major reason it will be held. Advisers are already planning to hold preparatory talks, confirming statements made earlier by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany on Saturday for informal talks over the Ukraine conflict, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the Syrian civil war. Meanwhile, Turkey’s finance minister and his French counterpart agreed over the phone to jointly confront U.S. sanctions against Turkey. Delegations from the two countries will meet later this month to discuss further economic cooperation options.

Poland has renewed calls for a permanent U.S. military presence in the country. The most recent request was made by President Andrzej Duda. If the U.S. is going to favor bilateral defense ties over multilateral ones, then engaging Eastern Europe, especially Poland, makes a lot of sense. The region is flanked by Germany and Russia, and though they don’t see eye to eye on everything, they still share a lot of interests, especially in response to some recent U.S. policies. This puts Poland in an uncomfortable position, hence its calls to the U.S. military. Washington has yet to respond.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russia/US-- Europe
« Reply #172 on: August 19, 2018, 10:10:38 PM »
WSJ
Europe
U.S. Opposition to Pipeline Hangs Over Meeting Between Putin and Merkel
Sanctions could be used to stop completion of Nord Stream 2 pipeline amid concerns it would heighten Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas
A vessel laying pipe for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea near Lubmin, Germany, on Thursday. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
By Bojan Pancevski in Meseberg, Germany and
Emre Peker in Brussels
Updated Aug. 18, 2018 2:42 p.m. ET

As President Vladimir Putin met with Chancellor Angela Merkel near Berlin on Saturday to try to safeguard a controversial Russian-German gas pipeline, the U.S. wasn’t present but it could have a big say in the outcome.

The U.S. has in hand a package of sanctions that could be used to try to stop completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is already in its advanced stages, by targeting companies, and potentially financial firms, involved in its construction. Current and former U.S. officials said such sanctions had been discussed and could be mobilized in a matter of weeks, though they added that no action was imminent.

The pipeline, a key issue in the two leader’s talks, would channel natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea. The project is being developed by Russian state-controlled gas-exporting monopoly Gazprom , along with European companies Royal Dutch Shell PLC , Wintershall AG, Uniper SE , OMV AG and Engie SA .

“Together with German partners we are working on the new natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, which will complete the European gas transport system, minimize the transit risks, and secure the growing consumption in Europe,” Mr. Putin said at a joint press statement with Ms. Merkel before the start of the meeting.

But consecutive U.S. administrations have long opposed the pipeline, which would run alongside an existing one, over concerns that it would increase Europe’s already-high dependence on Russian natural gas and give the Kremlin political leverage and substantial revenues.

Gas Spat

Germany-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline would double direct Russian gas imports, as President Trump accuses Berlin of being "captive to Russia."

Vyborg

Nord Stream (existing)

finland

Nord Stream 2 (planned)

Narva Bay

sweden

estonia

russia

latvia

Baltic

Sea

lithuania

BELARUS

russia

Lubmin

Greifswald

100 miles

poland

germany

100 km

Source: Nord Stream 2

U.S. opposition to the project escalated after Russia was accused of interfering in the 2016 election and as the Trump administration grew increasingly skeptical that internal resistance within Europe would stop the plan, officials said.

In August 2017, Congress gave President Trump power to impose sanctions on companies and individuals working on the pipeline following revelations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, a power several U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal would now be used to try to block the project.

One U.S. official said work on the measures was being finalized between the White House and the State, Commerce and Energy Departments.

The official said the only decision left before enforcing the sanctions was whether to levy them only on the companies that would lay the pipes in the Baltic Sea, or to extend them to banks and other firms involved in financing the pipeline. Washington would give the European Union advanced warning before enforcing the sanctions, this person added.

German officials have countered that Western countries had been buying Russian natural gas at the height of the Cold War. One aide to Ms. Merkel said the U.S. push was motivated by Mr. Trump’s desire to sell more U.S. liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to Europe.

The EU in late July pledged to ramp up U.S. LNG purchases as part of an effort to de-escalate trans-Atlantic trade tensions, triggered by Mr. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs on European producers.

A spokesman for Ms. Merkel declined to comment on the possibility of U.S. sanctions against the pipeline. A Nord Stream 2 representative also declined to comment, saying the company wasn’t informed about the Trump administration plans.

A White House spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“We have been clear that firms working in the Russian energy export-pipeline sector are engaging in a line of business that carries sanctions risk,” said Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany. U.S. and German officials said Mr. Grenell has raised the issue repeatedly since arriving in Berlin in May.

Mr. Trump himself has been scathing in public about the project and brought it up in his bilateral meetings with Ms. Merkel, according to officials on both sides.

One concern about the pipeline is that it could make it easier for Russia to stop delivering natural gas via Ukraine after Gazprom’s transit contract expires at the end of 2019. The country, which has been locked in a bitter conflict with Moscow since Russian troops seized part of its territory in 2014, currently acts as a transit country for Russian natural-gas exports to the EU and levies a fee on this trade.

Ms. Merkel had hoped that assurances by Mr. Putin to continue channeling a substantial amount through Ukraine even after Nord Stream 2 comes online would placate the U.S.

“In my view Ukraine must retain its role in the transit of gas,” Ms. Merkel said on Saturday.

Mr. Putin reiterated his pledge but emphasized that the transit volume would need to suit economic demand. Ukrainian officials have complained that once Nord Stream 2 is built, demand for transit via their country would drop.

A U.S. official said Washington was chiefly concerned with curbing Europe’s dependency on Russian natural gas, which the Kremlin has used in the past as a means to pressure recipient nations.

“Russian influence will flow through that pipeline right into Europe, and that is what we are going to prevent,” the U.S. official said.

The original Nord Stream pipeline came online in 2011 with a capacity to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year through its German terminal on the Baltic Sea coast. It delivered a record 51 billion cubic meters last year. Nord Stream 2, set to go online next year, would double this capacity.

A European energy executive familiar with the discussions said company representatives had told John McCarrick, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, that the five European companies and Gazprom had already provided €5.5 billion ($6.3 billion) in financing and the project wouldn’t be stopped even if the U.S. were to impose sanctions.

Other issues the two leaders said they would discuss included Iran, Ukraine and the situation in Syria. Mr. Putin, whose country is involved in the conflict on the side of President Bashar al Assad, said that it was important to provide economic support for the rebuilding of Syria.

Germany hosts hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, but Berlin officials said that they were wary of providing economic support for Mr. Assad’s regime without a political agreement on the country’s future.

Mr. Putin arrived at the meeting at the government‘s guest house in Meseberg after attending the wedding of Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl at a countryside estate in the province of Styria, where he was pictured dancing with the bride. He also brought a Cossack choir.

—Tim Puko and Ian Talley in Washington and Ann M. Simmons in Moscow contributed to this article.

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Stratfor: The US threatens Russia over missiles
« Reply #173 on: October 02, 2018, 10:09:09 AM »
By George Friedman
The US Threatens Russia Over Missiles
Washington claims Moscow violated an arms control treaty.


The United States has threatened to pre-emptively strike Russian missiles aimed at Europe. Its stated justification is that the missiles in question are medium range and thus in violation of a 1987 anti-missile treaty. They were initially singled out in the treaty because they could be rapidly prepared for launch and arrive on target with minimal or no warning time. That meant that it could knock out European retaliatory capability, undermining the deterrent effect of Europe-based systems.
Washington’s ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said the U.S. remained committed to finding a diplomatic solution but was prepared to consider a military strike if Russian development of the medium-range system continued. She made it clear that the onus of diplomacy would fall on Washington’s European allies. Presumably, this means Germany, which has a somewhat functional relationship with Russia. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said he would address the issue with his NATO counterparts tomorrow.

The U.S. has expressed concern about these missiles before, but this is the first time it has threatened to destroy them. It’s unclear what a pre-emptive strike would involve, but it’s safe to assume Russia would consider it an act of provocation and could escalate conflict accordingly.

Our initial reaction is that it is a test of NATO. Most of the U.S. comments appear to be directed not at Russia but at its European allies, many of which, Washington believes, have been overly permissive about Russian missiles. If NATO is content to allow what the U.S. claims are violations of a Russian treaty commitment, then it says a lot about NATO. The U.S. has made military action contingent on the failure of the diplomatic route. And here, the U.S. expects the Europeans to take the lead. In a sense, the U.S. is trying to force Europe to take this seriously. And it’s reminding its allies that it won’t shrink from unilateral action, however unlikely the prospect may be.
Russia’s intentions are difficult to parse. The threat posed by these missiles does change the balance of power in Europe somewhat. Russia seemed to think that apart from the expected rhetoric from the U.S., and absent anachronized notions of nuclear deterrence, nothing would happen. From the American point of view, a treaty violation is significant. But the incident raises perhaps an even more important question: If the Russians see the nuclear balance as archaic and threats to Europe as outmoded, then why is it deploying this missile? The development of the missile likely indicates that the Russians do not see this as archaic. For the U.S., threatening to strike the Russian sites is meant to galvanize the Europeans and drive home the fact that in geopolitics, nothing is archaic.

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Big NATO exercises in Norway
« Reply #174 on: October 25, 2018, 08:39:16 PM »
OSLO  Military forces from 31 countries began NATO's largest exercise in decades, stretching from the Baltic Sea to Iceland, on Thursday, practicing military manoeuvres close to Russia, which itself held a huge military drill last month.

As temperatures fell below freezing across training grounds in central Norway, giving a taste of what it means to defend NATO's vast northern flank, some 50,000 troops, 250 aircraft and 10,000 tanks, trucks and other land-based vehicles were ready.

"Forces are in position, they are integrating and starting combat enhancement training for major battlefield operations over the next two weeks," Colonel Eystein Kvarving at Norway's Joint Headquarters told Reuters.

Dubbed Trident Juncture, the exercise is by far the biggest in Norway since the early 1980s, a sign that the alliance wants to sharpen its defences after years of cost cuts and far-flung combat missions.

Increasingly concerned about Russia since it annexed Crimea in 2014, Norway has sought to double the number of U.S. Marines receiving training on its soil every year, a move criticized by Moscow.

Russia last month held its biggest manoeuvres since 1981, called Vostok-2018 (East-2018), mobilising 300,000 troops in a show of force close to China's border which included joint drills with the Chinese and Mongolian armies.

NATO's war games were originally meant to involve 35,000 troops, but the number grew in recent months and included the late addition of an aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman with some 6,000 personnel.

NATO fears Russia's military build-up in the region could ultimately restrict naval forces' ability to navigate freely, and on Oct. 19 the Truman became the first American aircraft carrier to enter the Arctic Circle since before the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Although a solid majority of Norwegians support membership of NATO, whose secretary general is former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, some parties on the left would prefer that the country quit the alliance and form some type of military cooperation arrangement with its Nordic neighbours.

"The effect of this activity will increase the tension between Norway and Russia," Socialist member of parliament Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes said of the exercise, adding that the presence of an aircraft carrier caused particular concern.

"You have to be quite hawkish to view this as something that brings peace in any way," he told Reuters.

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GPF: Sailing by the Bear
« Reply #175 on: December 06, 2018, 06:02:30 PM »
Sailing by the bear. The United States has conducted a freedom of navigation operation near the Sea of Japan to challenge Russian maritime claims there. Though these kinds of operations are routinely used to counter Chinese claims in the Western Pacific, this was the first one directed at Russia since 1987. Soon after, the U.S. notified Turkey of its intent to sail a warship through the Bosporus and Dardanelles into the Black Sea, presumably in response to Russia’s recent seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait. (Notifying Turkey is required under the 1936 Montreux Convention.) The U.S. and Turkey may be at odds on issues such as the Kurds and the Syrian war, but mutual enemies have a way of bringing countries together. Turkey, with its long history of conflict with Russia in and around the Black Sea, will likely welcome this show of force by the U.S.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 06:09:12 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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US Ambassador Grennell: Germany, take a stand against Nord Stream 2
« Reply #176 on: December 16, 2018, 11:07:44 PM »


Germans, Take a Stand Against Nord Stream 2
The pipeline project would aggravate dependence on Russia, harming European states’ national security.
13 Comments
By Richard A. Grenell
Dec. 16, 2018 3:21 p.m. ET
A vessel lays concrete-coated pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline near Lubmin, Germany, Aug. 16.
A vessel lays concrete-coated pipe for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline near Lubmin, Germany, Aug. 16. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Berlin

Russia’s recent aggression in the Sea of Azov reminds us of the need for vigilance against Vladimir Putin’s malign activities. The U.S. and Germany have responded by strongly condemning Moscow’s blockade of the Kerch Strait, a clear violation of international law. While we appreciate Germany’s support for European solidarity, action should be taken to show Russia that its aggressions have consequences.

With this in mind, we ask Berlin to join the chorus of nations that view Gazprom ’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline project for what it is—an affront to Europe’s energy and national-security goals.

Russia’s actions highlight the danger of giving Moscow more sway over Germany’s energy supply. In 2017 Germans imported more than 50% of their natural gas from Russia. If Nord Stream 2 is built, bypassing our Eastern European allies, it is bound to increase Germany’s reliance on Russia even further. Russian influence would flow through the pipeline along with gas.

And what would flow the other way? Billions of euros that would support Moscow’s destabilizing foreign policy, including its increasingly aggressive posture along NATO’s eastern flank. We hope Germany pursues other supply options that would drive a competitive natural-gas market, rather than help Mr. Putin dominate the market.

If built, Nord Stream 2 and a second line of TurkStream would allow Russian gas to bypass Ukraine and undermine its security. That’s clearly what Mr. Putin wants. Nord Stream 2 would open the door to increased aggression against Kiev, since Moscow would no longer have to worry about how its activities could affect its gas sales to Western Europe. The Ukrainian government would also lose billions in essential gas-transit income—a sum roughly equivalent to Kiev’s entire defense budget. We welcome the commitment of Germany’s chancellor to ensure that gas delivery through Ukraine will continue. Unfortunately, time and again Russia has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to uphold its promises or its contractual obligations.

Ukraine has no greater friend than the U.S. in the face of continued Russian aggression. Europe should send Moscow that clear message, too. The U.S. will continue its decades of strong support for the European goal of energy security through diversification. The latest Russian provocations show how urgent this effort is. Many German policy leaders already recognize this reality. Leading Bundestag members from the Christian Democratic Union and Green Party have called for a restriction on Russian gas imports to Germany. That would be a step in the right direction.

Germany has made tireless efforts to resolve tensions between Russia and Ukraine through diplomacy. Now it is uniquely placed to use its political and economic clout to hold Russia accountable for its actions. By taking a tough stance through action on Nord Stream 2, Germans can show that they stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the rest of Europe, and that Mr. Putin won’t get away with continued aggression.

Mr. Grenell is U.S. ambassador to Germany.


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Stratfor: Update on Nord Stream 2
« Reply #178 on: February 08, 2019, 01:29:38 PM »
EU: Germany Might Take the Lead in Negotiations With Russia on Nord Stream 2
(Stratfor)

The Big Picture

After years of Russia manipulating natural gas supplies to Europe for its political ends, the European Union began fighting back through legal mechanisms. But while it revolutionized its onshore pipeline rules in the Third Energy Package, the bloc did not set rules for offshore pipelines, which have come into the spotlight with Nord Stream 2. Now, following much debate, the European Union appears to have figured out how to oversee them — and Germany couldn't be happier.


What Happened

The Council of the European Union on Feb. 8 approved new rules on offshore energy pipelines originating in non-EU member states. The European Parliament will now consider the Franco-German compromise measure, which assigns negotiating authority over pipeline rules and exemptions to the country where the duct's first interconnector is located.

Why It Matters

If passed, the measure would give Germany negotiating power with regard to Nord Stream 2, a 55 billion-cubic-meter (bcm) pipeline connecting Russia and Germany across the Baltic Sea. Berlin has long supported the pipeline, arguing it is not a political project but an economic one. This has not sat well among Eastern and Central European states such as Poland, Ukraine and Slovakia, which stand to lose lucrative transit contracts for Russian natural gas traversing their territory on the way to Germany via older, onshore pipelines. Eastern and Central European countries also fear Russia would be more likely to halt shipments of natural gas to them for political ends, since Nord Stream 2 would lessen the impact of such cutoffs on customers further downstream, like Germany.

Even if Germany ultimately receives negotiating power, the project would still have to surmount many legal and economic challenges before it becomes a reality.

If Berlin takes over negotiations regarding Nord Stream 2 with Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly, the pipeline would likely win EU approval. In the process, Germany would demand pro-competition concessions like requirements that Gazprom sell an allotment of the natural gas on spot market exchanges. This would force Gazprom to compete on the open market, promoting the EU goal of moving away from long-term oil-indexed prices and contracts. Brussels, however, would still play a strong role in the regulation of onshore pipelines connecting to Nord Stream 2, meaning that, even if Germany ultimately receives negotiating power, the project would still have to surmount many legal and economic challenges before it becomes a reality.

Background

Central and Eastern European countries aren't the only ones opposed to Nord Stream 2. The United States also takes a dim view of the project on the grounds that it would increase European dependence on Russian natural gas and make it far easier for Russia to cut off gas to Ukraine to gain leverage over Kiev. The United States has even threatened to sanction companies involved in Nord Stream 2, though it has not done so yet.

This year will also be crucial for talks between Moscow and Kiev on natural gas contracts at large. The transit contract between Russia and Ukraine, the main conduit for Russian gas to Europe at present, expires at the end of 2019. Russia and Gazprom have been open to signing a new contract, but various leaks and statements have suggested that Russia is considering a new transit deal offering only 10 bcm to 15 bcm per year, far below the 87 bcm of Russian gas that transited Ukraine on the way to the European Union and Moldova in 2018. The precipitous decline likely stems from Russia's expectation that it will be able to bypass those countries and cut straight to EU markets.

In public announcements and talks with Moscow in 2018, Berlin began to link the Nord Stream 2 project to the Ukrainian transit issue. If Germany becomes lead negotiator on Nord Stream 2, it could well make rules on supplies and volumes contingent on Russia's continued use of the Ukrainian route (in addition to Nord Stream 2), and a new transit contract between Moscow and Kiev. The issue is likely to come up during the next round of trilateral gas talks featuring the European Union, Ukraine and Russia in May, as well as subsequent meetings.

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GPF: US-- Central Europe
« Reply #179 on: February 12, 2019, 11:10:38 AM »
The U.S. in Central Europe. During a trip to Hungary, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Washington would try to re-engage with Central and Eastern Europe to prevent the region from building closer ties to China and Russia. Pompeo also warned of the risks of building networks using Chinese tech firm Huawei’s equipment and said cooperation with countries that have a strong Huawei presence could stall. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto responded by saying suggestions that Hungary was too friendly with Moscow and Beijing were an example of the West’s “enormous hypocrisy,” adding that cooperation with Russia didn’t prevent Hungary from being a reliable U.S. partner and NATO member. Despite the somewhat contentious exchange, Pompeo and Szijjarto agreed on a defense cooperation agreement that will allow the U.S. military greater freedom to move through Hungary and could increase Hungary’s purchase of U.S. arms. Pompeo is on a tour through Central and Eastern Europe that will also include visits to Poland and Slovakia

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GPF: US-Germany, Huawei & 5G
« Reply #180 on: March 12, 2019, 10:40:23 AM »
Huawei headaches. In the latest drama surrounding Chinese tech giant Huawei, Washington raised the possibility of limiting intelligence sharing with Berlin if Germany were to use Huawei in the construction of its 5G network. This comes after German officials said there was no evidence to justify a ban on the company. The issue adds to the list of topics the U.S. and Germany do not see eye to eye on. The threat of changes in intelligence sharing must be taken seriously. Germany needs whatever help it can get to bolster its domestic security as foreign fighters make their way back to Europe. And the issue could have an impact on NATO cooperation. The organization is already on rocky ground, and restricting or downgrading intelligence sharing between two leading members would only further weaken the alliance.


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Re: GPF: US-Germany, Huawei & 5G
« Reply #182 on: March 13, 2019, 07:45:13 PM »
Time to leave Germany.

Huawei headaches. In the latest drama surrounding Chinese tech giant Huawei, Washington raised the possibility of limiting intelligence sharing with Berlin if Germany were to use Huawei in the construction of its 5G network. This comes after German officials said there was no evidence to justify a ban on the company. The issue adds to the list of topics the U.S. and Germany do not see eye to eye on. The threat of changes in intelligence sharing must be taken seriously. Germany needs whatever help it can get to bolster its domestic security as foreign fighters make their way back to Europe. And the issue could have an impact on NATO cooperation. The organization is already on rocky ground, and restricting or downgrading intelligence sharing between two leading members would only further weaken the alliance.

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GPF: Italy, China & the BRI, and America
« Reply #183 on: March 18, 2019, 04:33:48 PM »
 GPF
March 18, 2019
By Jacob L. Shapiro


Italy Signs Up for the Belt and Road Initiative


Rome’s decision has provoked stern but ultimately empty U.S. warnings.


China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been making significant inroads in Europe despite repeated U.S. warnings to its European allies. On March 8, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed that Italy would become the 17th European country to join BRI. According to Conte, Italy will sign a memorandum of understanding during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Rome later this week. Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that Luxembourg is also in advanced negotiations with China to sign a similar agreement.




(click to enlarge)


Washington was quick to respond to Conte’s remarks. The day after his announcement, the U.S. National Security Council took to Twitter to express its displeasure, warning that Italy’s participation in BRI would “bring no benefits to the Italian people.” The Italian government is also facing backlash from its own foreign policy establishment, at least some of which is aghast at the potential sale of the cornerstone of Italian strategy since 1945 – strong relations with the U.S. – for the low price of unspecified amounts of Chinese capital to build infrastructure.

MOUs are nonbinding and generally full of unrealistic aspirations rather than concrete plans. Still, the deeper problem is that Italy is counting on the U.S. to buy significant amounts of Italian debt in 2019. This is especially crucial for Italy since the European Central Bank concluded its bond-buying program in December. If the U.S. decided to voice its displeasure by, say, encouraging investors to eschew buying Italian debt, it could increase Italian borrowing costs at a time when the country is already in recession and its debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is at 133 percent. At least on the surface, Italy appears to be risking an awful lot for an awful little.

Why, then, would it be willing to make such a move? Thus far, U.S. warnings against cooperating with China have been more bark than bite. Stalwart U.S. allies such as Poland, New Zealand and Israel have also signed MOUs on BRI with little consequence. Even France and the European Commission have appeared open to cooperation with China on BRI projects in various joint declarations. Italy is debt-ridden and cash-starved, and if China is willing to throw some money its way, Italy has every reason to accept it. It’s taking a calculated risk, but considering U.S. reactions to other MOUs, it’s not an especially dangerous one.

For China, Italy’s participation in BRI is an insignificant though welcome step toward its much broader strategic ambitions. China’s success in this long-term endeavor will not be determined by the endorsement of a single country, even one as important as Italy. The broader project is to connect the entire Eurasian landmass via ports, roads and rail. Even if successful – and that’s a big if – it will be many decades before such infrastructure can be built let alone pay dividends. It will also take a lot more than MOUs for such a plan to work.

Many have described BRI as a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan. But it’s a faulty comparison because it misunderstands the scope and goals of both projects. The Marshall Plan’s aim was to rebuild Western Europe so it could hold the line against the Soviet Union. In trying to reorient Eurasia away from the Western Hemisphere and toward the Middle Kingdom, BRI is entirely different in scope. The United States would never have contemplated a Eurasian-wide Marshall Plan because it would have laid the groundwork for precisely the type of power the U.S. has been obsessed with thwarting for over two centuries.

As overly ambitious as China’s larger strategic goal may be, it is precisely that strategic aim that so irks the United States. While it doesn’t particularly care if China builds a port in Italy or high-speed rail in Poland, it does care about the potential emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia. Whether it’s China or some other power bridging the Eurasian landmass, the threat to the United States is the same. Being able to seamlessly connect markets from Shanghai to Lisbon would hamper the United States’ ability to prevent the rise of a Eurasian hegemon or a Eurasia less dependent on Washington’s support and approval.

There’s just one small problem with China’s plan: It would be nearly impossible to execute. China doesn’t possess the levels of financial and political capital needed to complete such a project. Even if it did, it would face tremendous political challenges in implementation. Many great powers have dreamed of ruling Eurasia. They have all been thwarted by Eurasia’s tremendous diversity. China’s vision of two continents stitched together by shared economic interests is wildly idealistic because not everything is about shared economic interests. Consider the European Union, and the level of discord in that multilateral organization despite its immense wealth. China has promoted the idea that Eurasian countries should cooperate to build a more prosperous and stable Eurasia. It’s a noble idea, but the promise of infrastructure spending will not be enough to encourage countries as varied as Italy, Iran and Uzbekistan to work together to build a Chinese-led Eurasian order.

Even if China’s ultimate aim to link Eurasia is more dream than reality, BRI is still potentially problematic because China’s ability to convince countries to sign MOUs undermines U.S. relationships throughout the world. The United States' insistence that its allies reject BRI funds or Huawei 5G equipment falls on deaf ears because the United States hasn’t offered any compelling alternatives. The U.S. built and sustained a global world order based on maximum freedom and independence for all actors. Countries that agreed to play by U.S. rules gained unfettered access to trade and protection from potential adversaries. At its best, the system is largely non-coercive and works in the interests of its stakeholders. But it wasn’t envisioned as a kind of American empire, in which an American emperor could direct countries not to buy the best technology available because the U.S. didn’t like who was making it. Indeed, in 1945, the U.S. was interested in destroying empires, not building one of its own.

When the U.S. takes such a heavy-handed approach on issues like BRI and 5G, it plays directly into China’s hands because such is the behavior of an empire. The aspect of U.S. policy that is most attractive to most countries is precisely how hands-off U.S. foreign policy is. The U.S. has no desire to dominate Eurasia – it simply wants to make sure no one else does. China, with its authoritarian system and historical preference for social stability over the protection of individual rights, does have an interest in dominating Eurasia, not to mention a history of conquering vast swaths of it. That’s why, at a political level, even a country as distant as Italy can’t seriously contemplate an alliance with China. Accepting investment is one thing, but Italy isn’t about to seek to replace a system that has sustained it through the most united and profitable period in Italian history since the Roman Empire.

The only thing that could really push countries like Italy and Poland into China’s waiting arms is if the U.S. breaches the rules of its own system and, in doing so, harms the national interests of those who participate in it. The U.S. is insisting other countries ban Huawei technology or not sign BRI MOUs, without providing better, or at least comparable, alternatives. If the best the U.S. can do in these situations is threaten to impose tariffs or other economic penalties, it is indicative of the kind of sclerotic self-righteousness that often appears when global superpowers either take power for granted or fail to maintain their relative advantages. Six years after China announced the Belt and Road Initiative, the U.S. response is to send angry tweets. That is far more of a boon to Chinese strategy than any MOU could ever be.





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GPF: Russia preparing Ukranian invasion?
« Reply #188 on: July 30, 2019, 09:35:11 AM »


Charges of Russian aggression. In an interview with Obozrevatel, a member of Ukraine’s top brass said he suspects Russia is preparing a large-scale military operation against Ukraine. Lt. Gen. Vasily Bogdan said powerful Russian military units – including more than 200,000 troops backed by rocket artillery, missiles and electronic warfare systems – are concentrated on the Russia-Ukraine border. On top of this, the Ukrainian Military Portal reported that, starting July 24, Russia blocked off five zones in the Black Sea totaling nearly 119,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) – more than a quarter of the sea’s total area. The zones closed off international shipping routes to Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Ukraine, effectively cutting off these countries’ sea access. Russia said the closures, which are scheduled to continue through Aug. 19, were for “combat training” and other navigational purposes.

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« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 09:16:56 AM by ccp »

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part two phoney russian hoax
« Reply #190 on: August 14, 2019, 09:18:35 AM »
stephen Cohen
a good listen
(even if this is his wife : Katrina vanden Heuvel)

Dr Cohen thinks it began in the CIA not FBI under Obama Administration -  and is largest scandal in American history (the MSM completely ignoring unlike when they had a Republican president in their crosshairs):

~ 21 minutes

https://audioboom.com/posts/7341650-tales-of-the-new-cold-war-2-of-2-russia-s-nuclear-powered-fear-of-first-strike-stephen-f-cohe?playlist_direction=reversed

I would be shocked if we will find out ever.  let alone before the election
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 09:40:48 AM by ccp »


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GPF: Russia-Serbia
« Reply #192 on: October 24, 2019, 09:57:16 AM »
Russia and Serbia get cozier. While most of Europe’s political leaders have been busy lambasting French President Emmanuel Macron for blocking North Macedonia’s and Albania’s bids to join the European Union, a much bigger country in the Western Balkans has been pulling away from Brussels’ sphere of influence. Last month, Russian troops trained their Serbian counterparts on the use of Russia’s S-400 air defense system during a joint air defense exercise in southern Serbia. On Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it had airlifted the S-400 and battery of short-range Pantsir-S1 missile systems to Serbia for phase two of those same exercises, known as Slavic Shield. The Serbian military is due to receive a shipment of Pantsir-S1s, and Serbian politicians have discussed purchasing S-400s as well. In addition, the two countries are scheduled on Friday to sign an agreement creating a free trade area between Serbia and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. The European Commission has repeatedly warned Belgrade, which began accession negotiations with the EU in 2014, that it cannot be a member of both economic unions. But Serbia’s government has proceeded undeterred; President Aleksandar Vucic told the Financial Times this week that Brussels’ decision on Western Balkan expansion vindicated his approach.

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GPF: Exploring the Eastern Flank of the Euro War Theater
« Reply #193 on: October 25, 2019, 12:06:23 PM »
   
    Exploring the Eastern Flank of the European War Theater
By: Jacek Bartosiak

It is increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that Russia’s foreign policy, which aims to reestablish dominance in the region, is supported by a military policy meant to ensure its security at the expense of its neighbors. Indeed, Moscow has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to do so. Over the past few years alone, Russia has reconstituted so-called “strike armies” that had been defunct since the end of the Cold War.

These strike armies have been deployed to mostly to Russia’s west in a clear attempt to intimidate the countries on NATO’s eastern flank. And while they have not yet been battle tested, they appear capable: Joint strategic command staff exercises in recent years show that they can operate on a front stretching from the Baltics to the Sea of Azov, an area comprising the entire Intermarium.
 
(click to enlarge)

Yet the main focus of Russian military posturing is on preventing NATO from enlarging its eastward power projection toward the Russian heartland. It’s a tall order, considering that for more than 30 years the U.S. has relied on supremacy in four of five domains of warfare – land, sea, air, space and information. U.S. dominance in this regard has been a function of seamless air-ground operations as land forces have increasingly depended on other domain capabilities to enable freedom of action on the ground. Russia’s military modernization efforts are meant to achieve parity on these fronts.

With the change in the contemporary warfighting technology and geography in Central and Eastern Europe, ground forces might now be required to provide freedom of action to other domains by eliminating the enemy’s land-based anti-air, space, maritime and cyber capabilities. This is a novel situation for the (thus far) superior U.S. forces that enjoy “artillery support” of F-16s and other tactical aircraft. The so-called Air-Land Battle Concept, which was the foundation of U.S. capabilities in Europe, has been undermined by advancements in Russian anti-access/area denial, electromagnetic and cyber warfare capabilities. Put simply, if allied units can be detected electronically, they can be hit, destroyed, disrupted or spoofed.

Power projection now matters again. The U.S. must deploy and sustain itself over contested lines of communication to deter or counter Russia deep into the European Peninsula to reach Poland and the Baltic States. The problem is that United States lacks the ability to project power in sufficient quantity within the required time frames if opposed by a peer or near-peer enemy. Turns out, old military doctrines weren’t enough to defeat the new generation of Russian warfare – at least not as quickly or as cheaply as the United States would prefer.

Washington’s answer has been to demonstrate credible warfighting capability to deter Russians by denial and to be postured to fight and win if deterrence by denial fails. This new operational concept, called Multi-Domain Battle, marries capabilities as part of a joint team to create temporary windows of superiority across multiple domains and throughout the depth of the battlefield in order to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative; defeat enemies; and achieve military objectives. Time will tell how this concept transforms the European battlefield.

Far from the Atlantic coast and from the rimlands of Central and Eastern Europe is a different set of parameters for executing war, a place where Continental wars were waged for European domination. There are pivotal areas in in this theater that are critically important to sustain proper and credible military posture. I will explore them in detail in Part 2 of this article.   





Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Belarus: a barometer between Russia and the West
« Reply #195 on: October 31, 2019, 12:33:11 PM »


Belarus: A Barometer Between Russia and the West
Eugene Chausovsky
Eugene Chausovsky
Senior Eurasia Analyst, Stratfor
6 MINS READ
Oct 31, 2019 | 09:00 GMT. The country is trying to stake out a place between Russia and the West.

(ALENA BAHDANOVICH/Shutterstock)
HIGHLIGHTS

The collapse of the INF Treaty and Russia and NATO's military buildups are increasing pressure on countries in the European borderlands, especially Belarus.

Belarus has leveraged its strategic location to act as a mediator between the two sides, but its small size and geographic exposure present more risks than benefits for Minsk.

Rather than solve the intractable tensions between Russia and the West, Minsk will provide an indication of the scale and intensity of issues like the conflict in Ukraine and the future of arms control.

The warning could hardly be starker: "Mankind is moving to the brink of the abyss," Belarusian President Alexandr Lukashenko said earlier this month in an address to international officials and experts at the Minsk Dialogue Forum. "The confrontation between Russia and the West is at its highest level; in a couple of minutes, the stage of nuclear war can be reached." For Belarus, the standoff between Russia and the West is especially worrisome, given its position sandwiched between the two powers at a time when the recent collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty eliminates some of the safeguards preventing nuclear proliferation. What's more, both NATO and Russia are conducting military buildups in Belarus' immediate vicinity in countries such as Lithuania and Poland. Against that backdrop, Belarus is uniquely placed to show which way the breeze is blowing in the standoff between Russia and the West — even if its geopolitical position means those winds are destined to present some turbulence.

The Big Picture

As the standoff between Russia and the West intensifies, Belarus is becoming increasingly embroiled in it. In this, the small but strategic country is providing a barometer regarding the prospects for the Moscow-West standoff.

Aspirations Vs. Reality

Lukashenko's sentiments might be somewhat exaggerated, but they nevertheless reflect the sense of alarm in Belarus. The worries also loomed large at the forum, which — uniquely for other gatherings in the region — brought together representatives from Russia, the United States, the European Union, former Soviet countries and China on Oct. 7-8 with the explicit goal of finding workable solutions to regional security issues. As in past editions, this gathering took place in a "dialogue" format, in which the organizers of panels on issues like arms control and Ukraine purposefully mixed representatives from different countries so that participants interacted with one another and the broader audience, rather than delivering monologues. Organizers hoped the structure would cultivate an atmosphere generating new ideas and more constructive dialogue — with Lukashenko urging the forum's participants to "get together in a calm, peaceful place, discuss our problems, and work together to resolve them."

In practice, however, the forum largely reinforced the conflicting viewpoints and opposing positions of its participants, particularly where Russia and the United States were concerned. When it came to discussions about the INF, for example, Russian representatives blamed the U.S. withdrawal for the treaty's collapse, while U.S. representatives blamed Russian breaches and a lack of transparency for the INF's undoing. When it came to Ukraine, Russian representatives continuously referred to the conflict as a civil war, whereas U.S. representatives (in concert with the Ukrainians) termed it a war of Russian aggression. From there, the sides presented and repeated accounts of the other's transgressions in detail, illustrating the difficulty of getting Moscow and Washington to even agree on a common frame of reference over the problems that divide them, much less explore possible solutions.

This map shows locations in Poland and Belarus where NATO and Russia could deploy more military forces.

Belarus' Unenviable Position

This is not to condemn Belarus or the forum specifically for any shortcomings; rather, it lays bare the geopolitical realities that are currently in play. The standoff between Russia and the West — and particularly between Moscow and Washington — is a product of deep-seated and conflicting interests, with Russia seeking to pull the states of the former Soviet Union into its sphere of influence, just as the United States and NATO are striving to keep those countries out of Moscow's orbit. When it comes to countries like Ukraine, which is geographically exposed in the European borderlands and caught on the frontlines of the standoff, the conflicting interests can have disastrous consequences.

Belarus desperately seeks to avoid similar consequences. For years, it was a close ally of Russia and, to a certain degree, a pariah in the West, but the Belarusian government changed tack following the Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv and the ensuing conflict in Ukraine, positioning itself as a mediator between Russia and the West and as a country that could work with both sides. This shift had both political and geopolitical motivations — political in that Lukashenko wanted to avoid the fate of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who was forced out by Western-backed protests and an uprising against his rule, and geopolitical in that Belarus wished to prevent the Ukrainian conflict or other proxy wars from spilling onto its soil. Belarus, accordingly, has become a key negotiating site for the conflict in Ukraine (producing the Minsk protocols to pave the way for its diplomatic resolution), while its government has somewhat softened the suppression of its own opposition, earning better ties with the West and prompting the European Union to ease sanctions as a result.

Nevertheless, Belarus has been careful not to stray too far from Russia lest it alienate Moscow; indeed, its strategic alignment with Russia has only deepened in recent years. Despite occasional tiffs between Moscow and Minsk over energy prices and export tariffs, Belarus has remained a loyal member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Moscow-based Collective Security Treaty Organization. Belarus has resisted Russia's efforts to establish an air base on its territory in order to preserve as much autonomy as possible, but it has further integrated with Russia on security matters like joint air defense networks and aircraft purchases. In the meantime, Belarus has expressed deep concern over U.S. military expansion in Poland and, most recently, the deployment of an additional U.S. brigade in Lithuania. Minsk has duly vowed to respond to the buildup, suggesting that Belarus' calculations regarding Russian military deployments in the country could soon change.

In essence, Belarus is trying to maintain a balance between Russia and the West to reduce risks and identify opportunities, while also reaching out to other influential powers, most notably China.

In essence, Belarus is trying to maintain a balance between Russia and the West to reduce risks and identify opportunities, while also reaching out to other influential powers, most notably China. Although the forum concentrated largely on issues of European security, the topic of China was inescapable. From growing security ties between Moscow and Beijing to China's Belt and Road Initiative and China's role in the breakdown of arms-control deals, Chinese activities were a prominent element of virtually all discussions, reflecting the country's growing regional and global clout. Beijing is also important for Minsk specifically, as Belarus is a key hub of the Belt and Road Initiative in Eastern Europe.

It is in this context that Belarus, in general, and the Minsk Dialogue Forum, in particular, provide an important barometer of key geopolitical issues, including the strategic competition among the great powers, huge infrastructural initiatives to connect the continents, as well as the global arms race. Ultimately, given its size and its position among larger and much more powerful neighbors, Belarus cannot take decisive action on such issues on its own. Nevertheless, it has and will continue to use platforms like the forum to shape the conversation among key powers and maneuver in an increasingly complex and contentious environment. As one Belarusian official put it, "Supporting peaceful initiatives in the region is a matter of our survival" — something that reveals Minsk's broader strategy as much as the current geopolitical competition highlights its limitations.

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« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 05:29:46 PM by Crafty_Dog »


DougMacG

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Re: Russia/US Which President is/was Russia's puppet?
« Reply #198 on: December 02, 2019, 09:43:50 AM »
Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
Blocking oil and gas pipelines
Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
Cutting U.S. military spending
Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran.

Yep. You know who did do these things? Obama. You know who supports these things now? Democrats.

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/02/24/trump-isnt-sounding-like-a-russian-mole/

Hat tip, Glenn Reynolds.