RT News & Colin Freeman / The Telegraph – 2014-08-31 00:33:52
NATO Planning ‘Rapid-deployment Force’
Of 10,000 Troops to Counter Russia
(August 30, 2014) — NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
According to the Financial Times, the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.
Although no formal announcement has been made, British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to declare its formation at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales on September 4th.
Many specifics have yet to be worked out or announced, but planners are reportedly implementing ways to increase the number of soldiers involved even more if necessary. Air and naval units will be integrated into the group, as well as ground troops led by British commanders.
As noted by the Times, the creation of the force comes as a response to Russia’s involvement in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, with the ultimate goal being to “create a fully functioning, division-sized force for rapid deployment and regular, frequent exercises.” NATO has accused Russia of deploying more than 1,000 troops into Ukraine to bolster separatists in the eastern part of the country.
Russia, however, insists that it does not have troops operating inside of Ukraine and has dismissed NATO’s assertions.
Despite the fact that NATO has opted not to act militarily in Ukraine — unnamed sources told Foreign Policy on Friday that there are no plans to confront Russia with anything more than stronger sanctions — Jonathan Eyal of the London-based Royal United Services Institute said the group needs to demonstrate that its eastern European members are just as integral to the alliance as other states.
“We need to end the idea of different zones of security in Europe,” he told the Financial Times. “We need to be talking about prepositioning, regular rotation of troops and making it very clear that we do not accept that the eastern Europeans are in some different category of membership of NATO.”
The revelation also arrives just a few days after NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed interest in forming “a more visible presence” in Eastern Europe in the form of facilities capable of rapidly receiving “response forces” needed to counter Russia.
For his part, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said any attempt to stretch further into the region would impact Moscow’s own security planning.
Vladimir Putin: Don’t Mess with Nuclear-armed Russia
Russia’s president, speaking at a pro-Kremlin youth camp at a lake near Moscow, said “it’s best not to mess with us,” adding “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers”
Colin Freeman / The Telegraph
(August 29, 2014) — Vladimir Putin raised the spectre of nuclear war with the West on Friday as he defied international condemnation over his decision to send thousands of Russian troops and heavy armour into Ukraine.
Accused by Europe and NATO of launching a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, the Russian leader boasted to a group of Russian youngsters that “It’s best not to mess with us.”
In language not seen since the height of the Cold War, he told his audience: “Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”
Mr Putin’s comments, made during a visit to a pro-Kremlin youth camp on the banks of a lake outside Moscow, will horrify Western governments as they try to bring Russia into check. Even during the height of Cold War hostilities, few Kremlin leaders ever resorted to the direct mentions of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
He made his remarks as European leaders prepare to gather tomorrow for an emergency summit to discuss further sanctions on Moscow over the appearance in the last few days of more than 1,000 regular Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
The soldiers are believed to be the backbone of a lightning counter-offensive that has seen pro-Kremlin rebels in eastern Ukraine claw back large swathes of territory from Ukrainian government forces in recent days, dramatically turning the tide in the four-month conflict.
A major battle is expected in the port city of Mariupol in coming days, where Ukrainian forces are dug in in anticipation of a full-scale assault by rebels backed by the Kremlin’s forces. The escalation in the conflict is the most serious since the pro-Russian uprising began, and has dashed Western hopes that the sanctions on the Kremlin had forced it to gradually abandon its support for the rebels.
On Friday, Poland accused Russia of waging a full-scale “war” in eastern Ukraine, while Germany warned that the conflict was spiralling “out of control”. Speaking after a special emergency summit to discuss the crisis, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, said Russia could no longer pretend that it did not have “direct” involvement in the conflict.
“Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine. . . ” he said. “Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine. Russia continues to supply the separatists with tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and rocket launchers. Russia has fired on Ukraine from both Russian territory and within Ukraine itself. Moreover, Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine’s borders. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
At a NATO summit in the Welsh city of Newport next week, NATO leaders will meet Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s new president, to make clear what Mr Rasmussen described as their “unwavering support” for Ukraine.
Diplomatic sources have told the Daily Telegraph that Ukraine will ask for a package of “non-lethal” aid including thousands of set of new uniforms, helmets, body armour and communications gear. Ukrainian defence chiefs also want access to sophisticated US and NATO satellite images of Russian troop positions. However, despite
However, while Ukraine’s prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk said on Friday that Ukraine would now seek to join NATO, sources within the organisation said that it would be unlikely happen. Any such move would oblige NATO to come to Ukraine’s immediate defence against Russia.
A NATO source said: “Ukraine is not an ally. NATO may respect Ukraine’s decision if it seeks membership but the Alliance is not going to accelerate in that direction.”
In his comments to the youth group in Friday, Mr Putin defended Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula last March, claiming it was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government aggression.
“Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts,” he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. “We don’t want that and don’t plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.
He also alleged that Russians in eastern Ukraine were now subjected to “crude military force” from government planes, tanks and artillery, and criticised the Kiev government’s decision to seek European Union membership.
“If those are contemporary European values, then I’m simply disappointed in the highest degree,” he said, comparing Ukraine’s military operations in the east of the country with the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two.
“Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure . . . It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist . . . occupiers surrounded our cities.”
Moscow Warns of Reprisal over Poland’s
‘Outrageous’ Airspace Closure for
Russian Defense Minister’s Jet
(August 29, 2014) — Polish closure of its airspace for the plane of the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu will not go without an “appropriate response” as it caused a “real threat to flight safety,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated.
The diplomatic standoff on Friday took hours to resolve after Poland refused to grant free passage to Shoygu’s plane as he was returning from celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Slovakian national uprising that took place in the town of BanskÃ¡ Bystrica.
An hour after the TU-154 left Slovakia, the flyover in Polish airspace was suddenly refused due to the plane’s changed status. On the way to the celebrations, Poland designated the minister’s flight as civilian, while on the way back, it was changed from civil to military — for “unknown reasons”, according to Poland’s state air navigation services agency. Under non-civilian status, crossing Polish airspace requires at least a 72 hours’ notice before the flight.
The plane had to be grounded in Bratislava in what the Russian Foreign Ministry called an “outrageous incident”, while Poland cited “technical reasons” for not allowing the plane through.
“Russian delegation had to urgently return to Bratislava due to lack of fuel, which created a real threat to the safety of flight,” the ministry said in a statement.
Only after a “vigorous demarche” from Russian diplomats, Warsaw agreed to confirm the permit previously issued to fly over the territory of Poland.
As the plane safely returned to Moscow, Russia called Poland’s actions “a gross violation of the norms and ethics of communication” and in the context of the celebrations of Slovakia’s triumph over Nazism, a “blasphemous trick against the historical memory and the merits of those who saved Europe from fascism.”
The statement promises an “appropriate reaction from the Russian side,” as the Polish FM claims that politics were not involved.
“In terms of the flight by Russian Defense Minister over Poland, there is no political overtones. It was only about procedural issues,” Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski was quoted by Itar-Tass.
The UN meanwhile urged both sides of the incident to refrain from “provocative actions,” a spokesman for UN Secretary General Stephane Dujarric said linking the flight bar to the volatile situation in Ukraine.
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