Russian diplomat warns NATO against “delusions”

Brussels 28.11.2021 The assumptions heard in the United States that Russia is likely to be frightened with NATO capabilities in Ukraine and the Black Sea are dangerous delusions, Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on the YouTube channel during a TV show on Saturday, November 28.

“NATO states are taking over the Black Sea, Ukrainian territory. There are assumptions, which are voiced here, that certain daredevils or a group of combatants may turn up in Ukraine, who will try to test the strength of Russian defenses, expecting that we will not respond fearing the NATO potential. I would like to say and emphasize unequivocally that it is a very dangerous delusion,” the diplomat said.

Antonov pointed out that Washington is increasingly expanding the range of weapons delivered to Ukraine.

“Militarily speaking, this range of weapons funneled to Ukraine is expanding more and more. The Stinger [man-portable air-defense systems], Javelin [anti-tank weapons] and even our Mi-17 [helicopters] got there,” he said.

“They keep saying that these are defensive weapons. But we know what ‘defensive weapons’ mean, what the US Mk-41 systems are like, which, on the one hand, are certainly defensive, as they are anti-missile systems, but it has already been proven, and the Americans are not concealing now that they can be used for launching intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles,” the diplomat stressed.

Russia response to NATO Black Sea drills

Brussels 13.11.2021 President Vladimir Putin finds it inappropriate to carry out its drills in the Black Sea in response to NATO exercises there, there is no need to escalate the situation, he explained it in an interview with Pavel Zarubin.

“I should say that our Defense Ministry also came up with a proposal to hold its own unplanned exercises in this water area, but I believe that this is inappropriate and there is no need to further escalate the situation there. Therefore, the Russian Defense Ministry does not go further than escorting aircraft and ships,” Putin said.

The President drew attention to the fact that now the United States and its NATO allies are now conducting unplanned exercises in the Black Sea.

Moreover, “not only they formed a fairly powerful naval group there, but they also use aviation, including strategic aviation, in the course of these exercises,” Putin noted.

Afghanistan: NATO Extraordinary teleconference

Brussels 19.08.2021 Extraordinary Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs – Brussels, 20 August 2021
An extraordinary virtual meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs will be held via secure teleconference on Friday 20 August 2021. NATO Foreign Ministers will discuss developments in Afghanistan.

The meeting will be chaired by the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.
The meeting will start on 20 August 2021 at +/- 14h00 Brussels. The Secretary General is expected to brief the press after the meeting.

Previously at the press-briefing in NATO HQ Brussels on August 17, the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg said: “The North Atlantic Council has met to discuss Afghanistan.
“The situation is extremely serious and unpredictable.
Kabul has fallen, and the Taliban have taken control of most of the country.
I am deeply saddened by what I see unfolding in Afghanistan.

“NATO’s focus right now is to ensure the safe departure of personnel from Allied and partner countries, and of the Afghans who have helped us.
NATO has been working round the clock to maintain operations at Kabul international airport.
Around 800 NATO civilian personnel have remained to provide key functions under very challenging circumstances.
“Including air traffic control, fuel, and communications.
And I would like to thank them.
Let me also thank the military forces of NATO Allies, in particular Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom for their vital role in securing the airport.
Operations at the airport are now gradually resuming.
And during today’s meeting Allies announced that they are sending additional airplanes.

“We have also maintained our diplomatic presence.
Our Senior Civilian Representative Ambassador Pontecorvo and his team have been working closely with Allies and the rest of the international community to coordinate and facilitate the evacuation.
And we remain committed to completing evacuations including of our Afghan colleagues, as soon as possible.
The Taliban must respect and facilitate the safe departure of all those who wish to leave.
The airport, as well as roads and border crossings, must be open.
All Afghan men, women and children deserve to live in safety and dignity.
There must be a peaceful transfer of power to an inclusive government.
With no revenge or retribution.

“A government that does not respect the fundamental rights of all Afghans and reinstates the reign of fear, risks international isolation.

“The United States agreed with the Taliban last year that US troops would withdraw by May.
And after many rounds of consultations, all Allies agreed to follow the US decision.
Ending our military mission was not easy.
We were faced with a serious dilemma.
Either leave, and risk seeing the Taliban regain control.
Or stay, and risk renewed attacks, and an open-ended combat mission.

“We never intended to stay in Afghanistan forever.
Over the past few years, from over 100,000 troops we went down to less than 10,000 – and now to zero.
But what we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which had not been anticipated.
Parts of the Afghan security forces fought bravely.
But they were unable to secure the country.
Because ultimately, the Afghan political leadership failed to stand up to the Taliban and to achieve the peaceful solution that Afghans desperately wanted.
This failure of Afghan leadership led to the tragedy we are witnessing today.

“At the same time, we need to have an honest, clear-eyed assessment of NATO’s own engagement in Afghanistan.
Despite our considerable investment and sacrifice over two decades, the collapse was swift and sudden.
There are many lessons to be learned.

“But we should also recognise the gains we have made.
NATO Allies and partners went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to prevent the country from serving as a safe haven for international terrorists to attack us.
In the last two decades, there have been no terrorist attacks on Allied soil organised from Afghanistan.
Those now taking power have the responsibility to ensure that international terrorists do not regain a foothold.
Allies have the capabilities and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan.

“Due to our military presence and the support of the international community, a new generation of men and women have grown up in a new Afghanistan.
Able to get education, take part in the political process, run their own businesses, and enjoy a vibrant media scene.
Today’s Afghanistan is very different to the Afghanistan of 2001.
So those gains cannot be easily reversed.

“The world will be watching.
And must continue to support a stable and peaceful Afghanistan”.

KABUL: Russian Embassy remains functional

Брюссель 15.08.2021 Russian diplomats are not preparing the evacuation of the Russian embassy from Kabul, the diplomatic mission is working in a quiet mode, we are in touch with the ambassador, Zamir Kabulov (pictured), the special envoy of the Russian president for Afghanistan, director of the second department of Asia of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told RIA Novosti.

“No, the evacuation of the embassy is not being prepared. I am in contact with our ambassador, they are calmly working and closely watching the development of events,” Kabulov said.
The Taliban guaranteed security not only for the Russian embassy, but also for diplomatic missions of other countries, Kabulov added.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova, commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are taking over major cities, said that the world is watching with “horror” the result of another “historical experiment” of Washington.

“It’s surprising, but true: in Afghanistan, there is a confrontation between two forces, both of which are the fruit of the US thinking process. The world is watching with horror the result of another historical experiment in Washington,” Zakharova wrote on the Telegram channel.

The situation in Afghanistan has escalated in recent weeks with the Taliban militant attacks on the country’s major cities. On Sunday,August 15, media and sources reported that the Taliban control all border crossings in Afghanistan, are in the vicinity of the capital and have taken control of the Kabul University.

Meanwhile, the Afghan presidential administration said it was in control of the situation in the country’s capital, Al-Arabiya TV reported. Negotiations with Taliban are ongoing now in Presidential Palace.

Former Afghan Interior Minister and former Ambassador to Germany, Ali Ahmad Jalali, will be appointed head of the country’s transitional government, Afghan Khaama Press reports citing sources.

According to sources, negotiations are underway at the Presidential palace in Kabul to transfer power to the radical Taliban movement. It is noted that the head of the Supreme Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Dr.Abdullah Abdullah, acts as a mediator.

Earlier, the Taliban said they were negotiating with the government about the possibility of peacefully entering Kabul. They also stated that the Afghan government will be responsible for the security of Kabul until the end of the transition process.

The Taliban movement, while being a terrorist group banned Russia, guaranteed the security of the Russian embassy in Kabul, said Mohammad Sohail Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatari political office. Zamir Kabulov, special envoy of the Russian president for Afghanistan, director of the second department of Asia of the Russian Foreign Ministry, added that the evacuation of the Russian embassy in Afghanistan is not planned.

Zamir Kabulov, who was born in Soviet Uzbekistan, graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1977, and carried on responsibilities in various diplomatic posts in the central offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and abroad, in particular in Afghanistan. His Central Asian background further bolstered his career in dealing with Afghan and Pakistani issues.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership

Brussels 25.07.2021 Is Former Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Line for Top NATO Job?
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Politico portal, announced that for the first time in the 72-year history of the Alliance, the incumbent Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is looking for a successor, preferably from Eastern Europe. Taking into consideration the equity agenda, the time for change and break glass ceiling,
the main candidate is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who was a former Vice President of NATO and was also an ambassador to the United States.

(Image above: archive, Moscow The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich with Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin)

Another factor is whether the country from which the presidential candidate is coming from meets the NATO target of spending of a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It has been noted that Croatia’s former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has an “impressive biography”, leading this hypothesis to be regarded among relevant political leaders and diplomats.

Back during the 2015 Croatian presidential campaign, the then HDZ candidate didn’t want to reveal what her salary was as an assistant working at North-Atlantic Treaty Organisaton.

“I still follow the instructions given to me by NATO, which oblige me as a former NATO employee to make sure this data isn’t to be disclosed to the public, and the salary is much less than twenty thousand euros,” said former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the confrontation at which the matter was discussed with Ivo Josipovic (SDP), who claimed that salaries in NATO were not kept secret.

Afterwards in late 2016, there was speculation that former British Prime Minister David Cameron potentially becoming NATO’s new secretary general, and the British newspaper The Independent reported that the salary for the post was £220,000 a year (which is around €21,000 per month). According to the document from the beginning of 2020, the highest monthly salary paid out to a NATO employee stood at €23,646.

Fast forward to November 2020, NATO asked its members to increase funds in order to further improve the salaries of its employees, in accordance with the agreed methodology, which some allies refused, considering it inappropriate at hard times of the pandemic.

At Headquarters, formal talks on Stoltenberg’s successor have just begun, and the new Secretary-General is scheduled to introduce the NATO leaders’ summit in Madrid in late spring or early summer next year.

Image below: A competitor of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich  in NATO top job race – incumbent Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Continue reading “Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership”

Kremlin issues warning to Taliban

Brussels 14.07.2021 Russian senior official accused the Afghan government of hypocrisy and said it needed to start proper negotiations with the Taliban about the country’s future before it was too late. (Image above: illustration, Afghanistan).

Zamir Kabulov, a special Representative on Afghanistan, issued the warning ahead of upcoming talks about the Afghan crisis in Tajikistan where Foreign Ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation were meeting.

In an interview with state RIA news agency, the high official said that while the Afghan government paid lip service to the idea of talks it was not doing enough to make them happen.

“It’s hypocrisy. It’s an attempt to close their eyes to the reality which exists and these are empty words,” Kabulov told RIA when talking about the Afghan’s government’s stance on negotiations with the Taliban. “We need deeds” Kabulov has underlined.

The only way out of the current crisis which has seen the Taliban make military gains on the back of an exit by U.S. and NATO forces was for all sides to assemble at the negotiating table in Kabul, the official continued. Russia and other regional powers favoured a transitional government in Afghanistan, he added.

Any attempt by the Taliban to damage the security of Russia’s allies in Central Asia will be fraught with large losses for the Taliban movement, continued Zamir Kabulov.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. Taliban should understand that “any attempt to damage the security of our allies in Central Asia will be fraught with great losses for them, if not the loss of everything” Kabulov continued.

NATO: Macron follows de Gaulle footsteps

Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on NATO “brain death” have caused shock waves around the globe, exempting those who are aware of the Gaullist foreign policy traditions of the V Republic. (Image: archive).

The state funeral of the President Jacques Chirac confirmed the sentiment of the nation, highly praising the politician who stood tall against American invasion of Iraq, conducting independent foreign policy.

Long queues of people waiting patiently to pass by the coffin of their leader, paying tribute, indicated without ambiguity the direction of the policy to achieve the status of a “great” President of France – the rejection to bent to American whims.

It is highly likely that at the funeral of Jacques Chirac incumbent President Macron felt the state of mind of the nation, and rejected the perspective of entering the history as the “poodle” of President Trump. However may be this time U.S. President is not looking for a “poodele’. Actually he does not have high esteem for NATO himself. During the election campaign Trump assessed NATO as “obsolete”, and afterwards on many occasions promised to pull out the American military from the wars that seem “never end”.

President Trump has already raised questions why the U.S. should continue offering to Europeans “free ride”, requesting the Allies to invest a fair share into their own defense.

Six European allies now are above the threshold sought by US President Donald Trump — Estonia, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK were estimated to have met the 2% defence budget goal.

However the NATO burial concept derives from a few sold reasons: the Alliance task was fulfilled by the collapse of the USSR, ending Cold War; unfair distribution of financial burden within the Alliance or European “free-ride”; the nature of threats has become different, and they can not be addressed by military means. The latter is evident in failure to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan, where on average 55 people are killed daily fighting with Taliban.

The other element, contributing the degradation of NATO is the belligerent strategy of Turkish President Erdogan, representing grave concern for the Alliance in case of the retaliation attack of the Syrian leader Al Assad: the Article 5 of collective defense obliges the entire block to enter the conflict. Article 5 – the milestone of collective defence is becoming increasingly dangerous in modern world, overwhelmed by conflicts.

“I understand what you’re saying; I’ve asked the same question,” President Trump said during FoxNews programme while commenting on a young American to be obliged to defend Montenegro. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.” After all, Macron is not so original, suggesting that NATO brain is dead.

INF funeral revives nuclear war threat

Russia‘s defense minister Sergey Shoygu announced the  intention to build mid-range, nuclear-capable missiles a week after the President Trump has decided to abandon INF Treaty, which is considered to be one of the biggest achievement of humanity, closing the chapter of  the Cold War. The world is pushed back full force into the situation of the imminent risk of the World war III, triggered by will or by an accident. The dangerous perception of possibility to wage and win a nuclear war is back.

It would be very naive to think that technology is perfect: in 1983 Soviet officer on duty has prevented the nuclear war just because of his exceptional capacity for analysis, assuming the information he received from computers was erroneous – an episode of Cold War known as “false nuclear attack“.

The humanity was exceptionally lucky, that Stanislav Petrov was on duty on September 26, 1983 to identify the missile attack warnings as “false alarm“. His personal decision to disobey the rules is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous signals on the United States and its NATO allies missiles, which could have resulted in immediate escalation to the full-scaled nuclear war. Now we, as humanity are back to the situation when our survival depends on decision of an officer on duty, watching the monitor.

Last five years both the Americans and Russians blamed each other the violation of the INF, however it was NATO rapidly expanding.

Kremlin accuses the U.S. of violating the INF by the deployment of Aegis missile defence system in Romania and Poland, indicating that the launchers used in that system for defensive interceptors could be adapted to fire offensive cruise missiles.

In return Washington accused Russians of employment mystery missile  9M729  for Iskander launchers being more powerful than declared (480 km).  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov acknowledged its existence but firmly denied it was capable to hit targets between 500 -5,500 km away, strictly compliant with the INF.

The problems accumulating in the US-Russia relations have created a toxic mass within a new political and military context, caused by NATO galloping enlargement with a subsequent advancing of the military infrastructure to Russian borders: after including the East European countries, belonging to the Warsaw Pact the moment of the INF signature between Reagan and Gorbachev. nowadays the Alliance moved further to the East opening its door for Georgia and Ukraine. The perspective of installing Aegis there will create a vulnerability for Moscow, impossible to neglect.

However existing problems of relations between superpowers do not give a right to cancel the greatest achievement of the past, reversing progress, and pushing humanity to the brink of a fatal nuclear conflict, of which Europe is becoming a hostage. The American ambition for the hegemony has price too high to pay – the extinction of our civilization.

No new Russian envoy to new NATO headquarters

Russian decision to postpone  the appointment of a new ambassador to NATO announced today marks a new low in rapidly deteriorating relations between the East and the West, but even more it underlines Kremlin assertiveness, and claims of parity,  turning the page of a period when one could label Russia as a “regional power“.

However while looking at new splendid NATO headquarters in Brussels one wonders what it the purpose of the Alliance today? What’s the raison d’être? If it is the revival of the Cold War, what is its aim this time? The Communism has fallen, and there is no official state ideology in Russia to defeat. The authoritarianism, human rights and rule of law issues can hardly be targets of criticism, while NATO ally Turkey’s ‘Sultan’ Erdogan openly, and literally conducts purges against his political opponents, and wages a war against Kurds, describing it the ‘Olive Branch’ operation against Islamic State.

Meanwhile the radicals are not shy about showing faces in Afghanistan. After a decade of military campaign, NATO has withdrawn its troops in 2014 without any definite conclusion, but rapid and widespread rise of Taliban. Nowadays the Islamists are taking grounds, imposing unprecedented levels of violence, and there is hardly a week without news of terrorist attacks, and numerous victims among civilians. Unlike the time of the beginning of the US military mission Jawbreaker (2001)  against Osama Ben Laden in Tora Bora, the radicals are not hiding in the caves, they are claiming  power,  and constructing networks in real and virtual world, controlling two-thirds of Afghan  territory. The airstrikes in defeating the radicals do not help much, but turn against the Kabul and the West the entire population of the provinces for ‘collateral damages’.

However even the rapid progress of Taliban does not motivate NATO to start a coordinated action with Moscow, in spite of the obvious interest of both sides to defeat terrorism,  there are instead allegations of Russians ‘arming Taliban’.

“They say they wouldn’t mind if we gave them weapons, but they don’t need weapons. They say ‘give us money, we’re buying weapons from the stocks of the Afghan army and police’,” Ambassador Zamir Kabulov was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Ambassador said  that in their talks with the Taliban, the group’s representatives said they buy all their weapons illegally from the Afghan government and police, and asked for financial support for that.

While the West argues with Russia, reducing diplomatic missions and expelling staff, the Taliban actively uses an opportunity to expand, and it will succeed until there is a comprehensive joint NATO-Russia strategy for counter-terrorism. However within the current political situation, the low tight in diplomatic relations does not provide with an effective response to the rapidly growing terrorist threat.

UK to walk away without a deal?

 

trump-and-may

The UK departure without a deal as a concept appears persistently in different contexts, approaching the date of the triggering Article 50, promised by Prime Minister Theresa May in March, likely before the Treaty of Rome celebrations on the 27th, but after the Dutch general elections on the 15th. The UK officials do not wish to harm the fragile ties with the EU27, and complicate the situation of one millions of compatriots, chosen the continental Europe as their home.

The hostile rhetoric of the EU high officials, especially the Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, and the veteran of the EU project, made many politicians and experts to consider the departure without any settlement as a viable option, shielded by the WTO rules.

The perspective of the free-trade agreement with the US, opened after the visit of the PM May to the White House, makes ‘no deal better than a poor deal’ approach a leading trend.

Picture: US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May walking through White House gallery.