Why this is not a Cold War

The western world will witness a further escalation of Russia’s crusade with the western world, soon. The Ukrainian military and some NATO and US military experts have tried to warn the west and urged political and economic responses, such as freezing Russian assets (in line with the argument that there is “no military solution”).

And responses are coming. But quite the other way round: Ukraine has to produce its own anti-tank missiles as all it can get from the US-president are armored vehicles. The EU keeps silent on the “conflict” and on how to contain Russia, opening up the way for Greece that tries to embrace Russia in various forms, and leading German SPD-politicians (together with some of their Swiss counterparts) are calling for a “normalization” of the relationship with Russia.

It looks like Ukraine reminds them of the situation in Prague 1968 and the “normalization” of the situation after Russian-backed troops crashed down the democratic movement in a Czechoslovakia that was occupied by Russia after the end of the Second World War, what somehow justified the action.

There is one important difference between Russian interventions in eastern European countries during the Cold War and today’s situation: Ukraine reached its independence from Russia in 1991, and since then had the right to decide freely on its political and economic fate.

Already at that point of time, Russia tried to provoke the breakdown of Ukraine as a sovereign and democratic state: It liquidated democratic political leaders who had a chance to become the country’s new leaders, such as Ukraine’s “Václav Havel” Vyacheslav Chornovil in 1999, and also tried to assassinate Viktor Yushchenko who was to become the country’s president in 2004. It used political parties such as the Communist Party, and later the “Party of Regions” for its interests, infiltrated Ukrainian security forces, supported corrupted politicians, certain oligarchs and media with pro-Russian views, and also backed organized crime in the country – predominantly in the Donbas. At times, energy (gas) or military (the Russian Black See Fleet in Crimea) blackmail was very useful. Those measures are by know called hybrid-war methods and include infiltration, disinformation, discreditation, obstruction, intimidation.

Those are probably the only things what Russia’s elites are really productive at.

The concepts of international law and state sovereignty are based on other premises and  are difficult to consider for Russia when it concerns other states than Russia.

But this is not new.

What is new and different from the situation during the Cold War and also from the situation before March 2014 is that Russia has occupied vast territories of an independent European country.

It has used conventional warfare – in a scale only comparable to warfare during the Second World War – in order to occupy large parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast.

It forced over a million of Ukrainian citizens to flee.

Russia leveled at least a dozen of Ukrainian villages and cities in the Donbas, foremost Vuhlehirsk and Debaltseve in the Donetsk Oblast in February 2015, caring little about human losses which might go up to 5000 for the Vuhlehirsk/Debaltseve battles, consisting mostly of Russian soldiers and volunteers, but also more than 500 civilians.

There was no case of large-scale conventional warfare between Russia and a sovereign European country during the Cold War.

Plus, and a second important point that is contrary to the Cold War, we have what Ilarionov calls a Putin-international [find in this speech his arguments why this is not a Cold War].

During the Cold War it was clear that the enemy was the Soviet Union, and it had little friends in the western world. Today’s western friends of the Russian president are many more, including western mass media, most “intellectuals”, and main stream political parties in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and others.

Disinformation and keywords – initially spread by the Russian side – have been happily taken up by main stream western politicians and media (also a difference to the Cold War) in order to avoid action. The word “conflict” will probably even survive in the case of a Russian occupation of the Baltic states.

The result is a “omertà“, a code of silence, in western European societies not to mention the fact that Russia is using conventional warfare against Ukraine, is preparing Russian society for a large-scale war and exercising its troops on a permanent basis, and has turned Kaliningrad, the Donbas and Crimea to Russian military fortresses.

This code of silence and the fact that no one wants to get involved has the result that:

There is no public discussion on the fact that Russia’s objectives are much broader than Ukraine. Russia wants to split Europe from the United States, and to crash NATO. The non-existing discussion makes it almost impossible to get permanent NATO bases into the Baltic states or Poland. On a national EU scale there are also few proposals and outcomes on how to counter Russia’s destructive efforts: Lithuania has returned to military conscription and banned a Russian TV channel, Poland is putting up several watchtowers in order to observe its border with Kaliningrad (while there is no visible action vis-à-vis Russia’s ally Belarus), some steps are made for a EU energy union.

International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others who could push a discussion on Russia’s evil deeds care little about Ukrainain civilian losses, and even much less about the death of fighters on the Russian side (=open the Pandora’s box of Russian army involvement). The OSCE and UN and other international bodies are helpless at best, and often used by Russia in order to push its interests.

The incapability or lack of desire to face the truth also prevents to tackle Europe’s military weakness seriously.

It is the third important difference to the Cold War.

During the Cold War, the US army (and their European counterparts) had their material and troops ready in the case of an attack from the Soviet Union. Today this is not the case. Europe and the US have their material not ready in order to counter a conventional military attack from the Russian side. In the last months, Russia has been free to push the borders for its military exercises in terms of European territory violated and amount of troops exercised. Russia even has turned to nuclear blackmail. Few know that this has been a taboo-issue since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis which almost led to a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.

The US and the EU have not responded to Russia’s nuclear blackmail. At the same time, they claim deterrence functions.

However deterrence means: if you are threatened with nuclear warheads – you also have to threaten with them. And threaten in such a way, the enemy believes you.

This essentially is the problem.

Russia does not believe the US and Europe are going to use their warheads.

US and European leaders seem to know that. Therefore they even do not threaten with them.

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Russia has opened up another front in the Czech Republic

While eastern Europeans are talking about possible next targets in Ukraine (Mariupol, Kharkiv, or everything in-between), the occupation of the Baltics (or Moldova, Georgia or even parts of Kazakhstan), Russia is targeting a very central European country: the Czech Republic.

Russia’s efforts to discredit the Czech Republic on an international stage have intensified recently. The so-called “Dragoon Ride” has been a welcomed occasion: Soldiers of the American 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment are currently driving Stryker combat vehicles from Estonia via Poland and the Czech Republic to Bavaria, Germany.

This fact has been used by Russian agents, Russophiles and others to stage a loud verbal anti-NATO campaign in the Czech Republic (and to distract attention from own large-scale war preparation efforts).

First those efforts were quite successful as the supporters of the NATO belong to the silent majority – 82 per cent of the Czech have no problems with Americans driving through the country. Thus several civic organizations and the media outlet Svobodné Forum decided to act, and organized the support campaign “Hi Friends” and Pro konvoj 2015, taking place from 28 until 31 March 2015.

The Facebook-account of one of the organizers and chief of Svobodné Forum Pavel Šafr, in the last days was blocked twice due to Russian influence as he claims. (Necessary to add that several days ago, the access to a Czech and Slovak support letter of Ukraine stating “There is War in Europe: Let’s not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938″ was also restricted).

The Czech Communist Party KSČM organized a protest-booth on 26 March 2015 in Vyškov (with the meagre outcome of 50 participants), where a part of the troops were to stay overnight. More protests are planned in Prague (“Let’s stop the American occupiers”), and there have been calls for a blockade at one of the Polish-Czech border crossings the Americans are going to enter.

The KSČM is in fact one of the main players for Russia in the Czech Republic: The party is proud of its party past as communist hardline party until the break-down of socialism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. It is since ever tightly connected to Russia and Russian/socialists sensibilities, and can be compared for example with the German party “Die Linke”. Its average support-rates are at 14%. Its current head and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Vojtěch Filip was also listed as collaborator of the Czechoslovak state security (a court decided he had not collaborated consciously). Recently, Filip participated in a demonstration in Prague against western sanctions against Russia (Russia’s propaganda-outlet Sputnik happily quoted him at this occasion in English and German). In the recent escalation of events, he told cz.Sputniknews that there was no “Russian danger” and that common military exercises and US presence in Europe would make the situation worse.

The political environment in the last months has much supported Russian ambitions: The pro-Russian positions of the country’s president Miloš Zeman (who interestingly is in support of “Dragoon Ride”) and his predecessor Klaus are widely known. Less known is that the governing coalition has repeatedly questioned the sense of sanctions against Russia, and be it not for German pressure, it is doubtable the two bigger coalition parties would have consented to them.

The first party of interest is the “protest movement” ANO – which critics say is in fact a protest movement against democracy. Its current support rates are around 30%. The party founder and Slovak-born leader Andrej Babiš is a former member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party KSČ, later turned businessman (with the business conglomerate Agrofert), and now additional owner of the country’s most important media and finance minister. Since several months, he staffs the state administration and also his party with his people, absolutely loyal to him, and some therefore call ANO the “Führerpartei”. There has been a high percentage of persons in his entourage who are “siloviki” (i.e. connected to police agencies), formerly studied at Communist cadre schools, were members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, or are suspected of having worked for the Czechoslovak Security Service StB. ANO’s party leader is still involved in court proceedings in Slovakia, because he denies the authenticity of state security documents of the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute identifying him as collaborator for the Czechoslovak state security. There is even a former spy heading a Prague district mayor’s office. ANO has kept a low profile on its position towards Russia, and the new party’s vice president recently claimed ignorance on foreign policy. The second party is the Czech Social-Democratic Party ČSSD – the party’s program can be called rather socialist, and its position toward Russia is comparable to the appeasing-position of the German SPD. Some have characterized their stances as “pro-Russian or neutral”. The current ČSSD foreign minister is one of the few western politicians who still speak to Lavrov. ČSSD-head and Prime Minister Sobotka keeps a very low profile on all questions related to Ukraine and Russia.

Plus, the concentration of pro-Russian servers and news-portals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is also astonishing: there are over 40 websites with this mission, and several institutes engaged for the Russian cause – such as the ISSTRAS that in summer 2014 claimed Russia was not responsible for the 1940 Katyń-massacre, when the NKVD murdered over 20.000 Polish officers. One of the most notorious pro-Russian services in the Czech Republic has been Aeronet, active since summer 2014. They for example held the November 2014 street protests against Czech President Zeman were organized by Americans (directly from the US embassy).

There are some other serious points to consider: The Czech Republic – in particular Prague – is considered Russia’s outpost in central Europe. The Russian embassy is the biggest base for Russian spying in the region. With its 125 people it is totally overdimensioned (in comparison, the Russian embassy in Warsaw has half of it, and the Americans have 70 people in Prague). The embassy has acquired large estates in Prague and Russia’s Czech spa Karlovy Vary, and nobody knows what is going on there. The Czech Security Information Service BIS for several years now has warned that a significant amount of persons connected to the Russian embassy are spies. The Czech parliamentary deputy Gabal suggested to reduce this amount significantly. However, this is not easy – the law does not allow it. Additionally, the BIS decovered four Russian spies last year (one of them with links to Russian organized crime in the Czech Republic) which complicates the current situation.

The Russian embassy in Prague has been actively engaged against western values and NATO. So, its employees have spoken out against “Dragoon Ride” and spread hard-core Russian propaganda. They retweed, of course, the statements of their boss Lavrov, the claims of the Russian propaganda agencies Tass, Ria Novosti, RT, Sputnik, its Czech outlet Sputnik ČR, (the Czech conspiracy-site) Protiproud or the pro-Russian AC24.cz. For example the embassy featured the AC24.cz fake that American forces, the FBI and the CIA are already in Ukraine. The embassy puts a great focus on war propaganda, i.e. Soviet heros and victories of WWII – in a mental preparation for the 9th May anniversary and further military actions. They also retweeded the link for the notorious video “I’am a Russian occupant” (initially spread by the Russian Vice-Prime Minister Dimitri Rogozin). The video indirectly called for an occupation of the Baltics, Central Asia and Ukraine. Additionally, the Czech media outlet Echo24.cz reported the Coordination Council for Russians living in the Czech Republic – directed by the Russian embassy – requested its members to compile lists of their “military-patriotic activities” until the end of April 2015. In regard to the situation this has to be interpreted as preparations of para-military and propagandistic units.

All those measures are components of Russia’s hybrid warfare.

Russia is trying to take over the Czech Republic.

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OSCE stops exhibition on Crimea

We have become used to the fact that OSCE-observers are fooled by Russia and their proxies in the Donbas – most recently, it has concerned the withdrawl of heavy weapons from the contact line. The deputy chief of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, the Swiss Alexander Hug, went so far to say it was also important what the OSCE did not report. So, if they do not say that they are Russian troops and weapons, for example near the contact line, does this mean, the troops and weapons are there? Interesting logic.

But there is still more space for scandal:

According to Delfi, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian delegations had planned an exhibition on Crimea, but it was prevented in the OSCE-building in Vienna by the head of the OSCE Zannier and the Serbian representation. The exhibition would have also shown photographs with “little green men” and unmarked military equipment. Apparently, this was too much for the OSCE. The press secretary of the Lithuanian foreign ministry said, this was the first time in OSCE’s history an exhibition exposing human rights violations was stopped.

Plus, the Russian and Ukrainian press reported that the Russian human rights advocate Victoria Ivleva blamed the OSCE of having passed sensitive information to the Russian occupying forces. As a result, a bus with 45 women, children and elderly persons who wanted to leave the occupied territory was turned back at a check-point. Ivleva was detained for several hours until she could leave.

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Czech and Slovak personalities issue an open letter to the leaders of the west

15 March 2015 on the anniversary
of the occupation of the Czech lands
by Hitler’s army.

Dear Mr. David Cameron – Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Dear Mr. Barack H. Obama – President of the United States of America

Dear Mrs. Angela Merkel – Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

Dear Mr. François Hollande – President of the French Republic

Dear Mr. Donald Tusk – President of the European Council

Dear Mr. Jean – Claude Juncker – President of the European Commission

There is War in Europe:
Let’s not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938

Dear Madame, Dear Sirs,

It has been a year since the citizens of Ukraine rose up and overturned a corrupted regime. More than one hundred citizens of Ukraine perished under their national flag and the flag of the European Union, so that they could open for their country a path toward dignity and freedom.

It is also a year since the Russian army, without military insignias and armed as “green men”, occupied Crimea and, thus, violated the principle of the sanctity of borders upon which peace in Europe stood after the Second World War. Immediately following this, agents linked to Russia attempted to create unrest in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine and break up the country. In the Donbas, Russia unleashed a bloody war, which, with the help of massive shipments of Russian tanks, rocket launchers and other armaments, as well as tens of thousands of soldiers and Russian citizens, continues today. Today the bloody footprints of Russian agents, soldiers and arms are as evident in Ukraine as the poisonous traces of polonium were in the streets of London.

It troubles us that, although according to various sources anywhere from six to fifty thousand citizens of Ukraine and Russia have died in Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, the democratically elected leaders of the West actually continue to engage in a policy of appeasement.  They refer to this aggression of a foreign state on the territory of another sovereign state as a “conflict” or a “situation” and to their clear deferral to the aggressor as a “diplomatic solution”.

In 1938 in Munich, while other democracies silently looked on, Great Britain and France – allies of Czechoslovakia – betrayed Czechoslovakia and, under the pretense of protecting the German minority, allowed Adolf Hitler to occupy an extensive piece of the territory of our country, eventually breaking it up and occupying it completely. Then British Prime Minister Chamberlain celebrated this act of betrayal in London by waving a piece of paper and talking about “peace for our time”.  History has shown in all its nakedness the naïveté of such an approach.  But the industrial potential and human resources of (until then) democratic Czechoslovakia were already fully serving Hitler’s war machine.

It troubles us that almost 80 years after Munich the situation is repeating itself.  In 1994, Ukraine gave up its arsenal of nuclear weapons and, with the signing of the Budapest Memorandum, the United States of America and Great Britain became the guarantors of its territorial integrity and independence.  The insufficient military support from the USA and UK to an embattled Ukraine is a sad reminder of the failure of western democracies to defend Europe against Hitler and casts a shadow of doubt on the credibility of other international guarantees and agreements, including the security guarantees, which membership in NATO theoretically provides to the countries of Europe.

We understand the efforts of European leaders to strive for a peaceful solution via negotiations in the tradition of the values of European humanism and post-war development in Europe.  It troubles us, however, that these efforts are misused in service of a continuation and prolongation of aggression.  It was time to provide effective and extensive military and economic help to embattled Ukraine long ago: embattled because its citizens decided to strive for freedom, human dignity and membership in the European Union.

The citizens of Ukraine are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as a democratically elected political future.

No one has the right to hinder them in their efforts to achieve this.  The Russian war against Ukraine is an attempt to stop the spread of freedom and human rights with tanks, cannons and rocket launchers.

As a warning, let us remind parties on both sides of the Atlantic of the words spoken by the British leader Winston Churchill about the behavior of democratic powers in the year 1938: “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor.  They will have war.”

We already have war in Europe. Donations of bandages and blankets to the ravaged people of Ukraine and continual concessions to a ruthless and cynical aggressor will not stop it.

Whether or not the democratic world leaves Ukraine to bleed to death and enables the aggressor to expand further rests in your hands – but history will be your judge.

list of signatories

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You won’t prevent war like this

In recent days, we have seen repeated statements of US and NATO officials that Russian material and ten thousands of Russian forces are in and around Ukraine, and that Russian generals are directing the fighting in the east of Ukraine (some are probably identical with those sitting in the OSCE’s Joint Cooperation Center in Ukraine, but there are also others).

Miraculously, the issue the Russian leadership fears most has been rather neglected by both the western and the Ukrainian side: the real number of Russian casualties in Ukraine.

Yesterday, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland presented figures – 400-500.

Unfortunately, this number based on the Russian dead publicly confirmed (see some of them) is of little use to pressure Russia. It is also of little use to pressure Russia’s most powerful western ally Germany. The German main stream press and government representatives are inclided to side with Russia on this topic, and are also ready to undermine the position of their western allies with the help of German intelligence services. Former German NATO-representatives still speak of a „civil war“ and hold there are no regular Russian units in Ukraine (preferably in pro-Russian German talkshows). Czech and Austrian proxies for example will reproduce similar thoughts. Thus, Russsian soldiers from regular units do not die. It does not matter that the Russian press months ago started to publish reports on Russian aggressions, and Russian regular troops fighting and dying in Ukraine – after all, who knows about those in western Europe?

Therefore, the US, Poland, the Baltic states, Sweden and others should finally offer an platform for the view of Russian human rights activists and Russian oppositional politicians on the issue, and also publish Russian battle statistics.

The latter do not feature 400-500 dead.

The number is slightly higher:

7584.

This is the minimum number of persons who have been killed within Russian regular ranks. As of 10 March 2015, an additional 6054 have been wounded, and 3350 are missing.

Those do not include the „volunteers“ who also have died in the thousands.

But total numbers should be only a first step.

In order to put pressure on Russia it has to be established where those people came from and what they have done to Ukrainian cities, civilians, and servicemen.

Let’s illustrate this for one figure:

This is not the number of killed in several months of fighting in the Donbas.

It is the number of killed in just over six weeks (!) of fighting around Debaltseve.

This number also includes Ukrainian casualties:

Recent numbers of Ukrainian civilians killed have been put at 500.

Plus, this number includes up to 300 Ukrainian soldiers (see Yuriy Butusov for a discussion of how the Ukrainian general staff communicates Ukrainian losses).

Ukrainian losses make up less than a fifth of the number mentioned above.

The rest are Russian volunteers and Russian soldiers: more than 4/5 of the killed.

This number is based on available battle statistics which confirm more than 3.600 immediate dead.

Is it possible to generate this number? Yes, it is.

Recently, the Russian side started to provide numbers on the losses of volunteers; one reason is the „professionalization“ of their units. Accordingly, their direct losses at Debaltseve are up to 2.600 men; plus more than 5000 were wounded. There are few Ukrainians among them, as they started to refuse to be used as cannonfodder quite early – in contrary to Russians.

Russian regular units have been used for second-wave attacks.

Accordingly, their losses are fewer, but still significant:

1051 – „200“ (=dead) as a result of direct fighting.

1788 – „300“ (=wounded).

Some 361 went missing.

There has been no reliable information on mortality rates of the wounded on the Russian side. The US with its advanced medical service had mortality rates around 20% in 2005, and reduced the figure significantly afterwards). Historically, the survival rate of wounded US soldiers had been put at between 70 and 76%.

Even if we admit a relatively low mortality rate of just around 20%, the total number of killed is well above 5000.

This makes the battle of Debaltseve the most destructive European battle since the Second World War in Europe.

It was far more destructive than the battle of Vukovar in summer/autumn 1991 which has been considered the fiercest battle in Europe since 1945. As Vukovar in 1991, Debaltseve in 2015 was also ethnically cleansed: it’s Ukrainian population of more than 64% entirely left the area.

But there is a slight difference between Debaltseve and Vukovar: Vukovar then had been a major issue in the European media and for European politics. Debaltseve is not: The „international community“ chose to move on, i.e. to ignore it. The reason might be that the limit has been set at Grozny when it comes to Russian destruction – so there is still some room for manoeuvre.

Still, the responsible for the destruction of Debaltseve, the killing of civilians, for crimes against Ukrainian soldiers have to be named. In the first place, it is the Russian political and the military leadership (the protagonists should be known to the broader public), but also the single military units and individual soldiers are responsible. After all, a recent and wide-spread interview of one of the Russian invaders at Debaltseve has shown Russians are proud of the lies of their president, proud of destroying Ukrainian cities and slaughtering Ukrainians.

The following map shows the locations where the Russian units came from:

white pict

In detail:

Volgograd (20th g. motor rifle brigade; together with 18th g. motor rifle brigade / Novosibirsk):

210 dead, 351 wounded, missing 42

Stavropol (25th special regiment of the 49th army):

192 dead, 241 wounded, 152 missing

Dagestan / Buyinaksk (136th g. motor rifle brigade):

266 dead, 387 wounded, 180 missing

Attack group of the Interior Ministry of Chechnya:

20 dead, 28 wounded, 32 missing

Chechnya/Borzoi (8th g. motor rifle brigade) (together with 18th g. motor rifle brigade / Novosibirsk):

27 dead, 54 wounded – the Novosibirsk had an additional 40 dead, 77 wounded, 11 missing in other battles

Vladikavkaz (19th mechanized brigade and 67th art. brigade):

174 dead, 270 wounded, 33 missing and 13 dead, 20 wounded

Naro-Fominsk, Moscow. Obl. (13th g. tank regiment):

79 dead, 154 wounded, 17 missing (partly with the 32th mot. rifle brigade Shilovo / Novosibirsk. Obl.)

Nizhny Novgorod (6th special tank brigade):

47 dead, 64 wounded

Kyakhta/Buryatia (tank battalions from the 37th motor rifle brigade):

51 dead, 95 wounded, 6 missing

Mulino, Nizhny Novgorod Obl. (288th artillery brigade):

18 dead, 36 wounded

Novosibirsk (232th art. brigade of the 41th army):

16 dead, 64 wounded

Ingushetia (Troyitsk, 291th art. brigade):

3 dead, 10 wounded

Prokhladnyi, Kabardino-Balkaria (346th special regiment):

76 dead, 72 wounded, 26 missing

Plus, GRU and more sophisticated special troops have been brought in on special occasions in Vuhlehirks and Debaltseve:

Pskov (76th guards air-assault brigade / 104th reg.):

12 dead, 26 wounded

Ulyanovsk (31th guards air-assault brigade):

9 dead, 16 wounded

Kubinka, Moscow. Obl. (45th speznaz airborne regiment):

11 dead, 20 wounded

Ivanovo, Moscow. Obl. (217 reg. of the 98th airborne division):

61 dead, 122 wounded, 2 missing

Around 112 tanks/arm. vehicles were damaged or lost, plus well over a dozen of artillery systems.

(12/13 January 2015 until 23 February 2015; some minor units and former fights in the area were left out of the above list)

Troops now have been relocated during the most recent „cease-fire“, and fresh units have been coming in. Especial attention should be paid to hundreds of Russian forces from Samara, currently at Belgorod, probably preparing for an attack on Kharkiv.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Europe is an easier target for Russia than Ukraine

Foremost, because Europe refuses to realize that Russia seriously has embarked on its project to destroy the European Union and to split western Europe and the US after the occupation of Crimea.

One instrument it the financing of European extremist parties.

But the arguments of Tymothy Snyder are even more valid. In an video he presented how Russia’s “European” propaganda war is functioning, its primary target being the European left-oriented public and journalists, who make up a great percentage of the western European populations. Persons with leftist views are especially vulnerable for Russian arguments including “fascists”, “anti-semites”, “imperialist” NATO etc.

This has perfectly worked out. There has been much more public outrage against possible NATO expansion and US arms deliveries than empathy with the approx. 50.000 dead and over a million refugees in the Donbas (for whom very little humanitarian help has been coming in).

Currently, there are Russian preparations for another propaganda campaign: Ukraine is responsible for the “ecological destruction” of Crimea. The reasons is to get more support for a future larger military campaign in south-eastern Ukraine, both domestic and within the European left and ecological movement.

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European countries exporting arms to Russia and to Ukraine

europe1      europe-2

Belarus and Transnistria (Molodva) are included into the “Russian realm” as they host Russian military units / special services with Russian military material; (charts based on digitale-europakarte.de) /

Who has delivered weapons to Russia?

France, Italy and Germany. Those are countries loudly calling for a “peaceful” solution or a “normalization of the relationship” with Russia. Those are also the countries that have a long history of military-technical cooperation with Russia. Well-known is that the French still have not cancelled their selling of “Mistral” helicopter carriers (which is happily used by Russian propaganda in order to put pressure on France). Only at the beginning of December 2014, Thales, a French defense company suspended a deal to build reconnaissance satellites for Russia – on US pressure. It formerly had participated in upgrading Russian Su-27 warplanes, worked with Russia on Ka-52 helicopters, MiG-AT training aircraft, Su-30 fighter aircraft, or T-90 tanks (they also appeared in Ukraine last year).

German Rheinmetall built a high-tech military training facility for the Russian military/special services. The deal was only stopped after much discussion at the end of August 2014 by a German court. Daily Beast quoted US officials that there was still some German training given to the GRU Spetsnaz – the Russian military intelligence which played a crucial role occupying various parts of Ukraine. But NATO also participated in the training of Russian military, in 2012 for example, NATO and Russia held common “defense missile exercises” in Germany. According to German legislation, some pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles and ammunition are so-called “sport weapons” and can be exported without the usual restrictions, and are also excluded from the EU embargo. But there was worse: On 24 February 2015, the European Commission announced it approved the creation of a joint venture by Germany’s Daimler AG and the Russian military equipment enterprise Kamaz. EU policies prohibited selling weapons to Russia, but allowed them to be produced by EU firms working as joint venture in Russia. A possible delivery of diesel generators to Ukraine had been attacked (by the German social-democratic party SPD) as “military support“.

A report (p. 19f.) listed Germany and France as the biggest exporters between 2007 and 2011. Necessary to know that German defense firms’ outputs of “non-lethal” goods (military transport/logistics, surveillance and protective equipment) were five times as much as weapons and ammunition.

Italy for its part has been considered “a primary vector” of international activity of the Russian defense ministry, and the country among other provided Russia with armored vehicles. Russia tried to re-establish technical-military cooperation in February 2015.

Britain had been also a bigger exporter, and had canceled 34 of 285 licences in early summer 2014 – its exports included equipment for launching and controlling missiles, components for military helicopters, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, body armor and military communications equipment. British media later did not report how many of the remaining licenses were suspended after the EU arms embargo on Russia came into force in August 2014. Members of parliament again in March 2015 came up with the question whether the reported 248 licences (spying software, ammunition and components for military helicopters) violated EU-sanctions. There was no talk of abolishing them at all on the grounds of not providing military help to Russia.

Austria and the Czech Republic were minor players in supporting weapons to Russia compared to the above mentioned. The Czech Republic was still exporting German and US fire arms in February 2015 excluded from the EU common military list, possibly enabling Russian provocations. The Czech Republic was one of the few countries serving both sides: They had sent winter gear, and a military logistics officer was based in Kyiv in order to help the Ukrainian army. But this still were no weapons.

It is interesteing to see that the EU common military list – updated in context of the arms embargo on Russia in summer 2014 – has many exceptions, and the EU embargo excludes contracts that came into force before 1 August 2014 (art 4(2)). It is not understandable why the embargo has not been extended after the Russian January/February-offensive.

Who delivered weapons to Ukraine?

Britain delivered 20 out-of-service Saxon armored vehicles in mid-February 2015 (without weapons, 55 were to arrive later), and Lithuania exported “elements of military weaponry” to Ukraine. Poland in September 2014 had declared it would sell weapons to Ukraine which it repeated several times, also at the end of January 2015 (it was unclear if there was concrete business behind those public statements). Finland declared at the end of February to deliver 1,000 LRF-200 laser rangefinders. Russian propaganda reacted aggressively.

The UK  and Poland were going to send military instructors (up to 75 and some dozen respectively), but those are not on the most wanted list of the Ukrainian army and will not have a decisive impact, even if western media might think otherwise.

Something does not add up

There continues to be a sharp discrepancy between the material delivered from western countries either to Ukraine or to Russia.

The role of Germany and France – as with Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 – is one of playing in Russia’s hands. Additionally, Russian media and politics attack countries aggressively that are willing to support Ukraine. In comparison, the reactions of western media and politicians to Russian military cooperation with western European states are laughable.

Such an environment enables Daimler to do business in Russia. But it also allows Russia to invite the Greek defense minister to visit Russia, and to sign an agreement with Greek Cyprus to host Russian aviation and naval forces. It enables Serbia to continue its history of hosting Russian troops (some of the protagonists of the 1990s Balkan wars resurfaced in Ukraine), for example in November 2014 it held joint military exercises with Russian airborne troops.

Bosnian Serb politicians have also prevented a weapons deal between Bosnia and Ukraine.

Let’s see what comes next.

PS: As expected, the story goes on…

The most outrageous is certainly a deal from Switzerland (!) – as became public today. Switzerland has taken pleasure in being „neutral“ in Russia’s war against Ukraine. But it is not. Already the Swiss-led OSCE mission in Ukraine has raised many questions. The most important questions certainly concern the role of the so-called „Joint Coordination Center for Ceasefire Monitoring“ and the role Russian generals („officers“) have been playing there. For example, why could Russians abuse OSCE markings and leave the coordination center in Debaltseve at the end of January 2015 (before the town was levelled by the Russian army) without consequences? Now, we can also add Swiss military deals with Russia: While Russian troops were killing Ukrainians in summer and autumn 2014, Switzerland concluded its biggest military deal with Russia ever, worth 90 millions Swiss Franks, and delivered special military gear that protects against radar and infrared radiation.

(updated 8, 20 March 2015)

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