Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday to discuss prospects for further relationship. Presenting the program of his government for 2015, he said the main task for the country next year will be to survive ‘Russian military aggression’ and a deep economic crisis. Kiev says the current crisis has left it with no choice but to seek protection from NATO. Yet, the truth is, the process of Ukraine’s integration into NATO was launched long before Maidan…
Says Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO International Network:
Yes, in 1994, 20 year ago Ukraine became the first former Soviet federal republic to be recruited into NATO’s post-Cold War era transitional military partnership – the one which is called Partnership for Peace. The name of which, of course, is a glaring misnomer, as it’s been in fact used to deploy troops for candidate members in several war zones, including in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and so forth.
But I think it is significant that 20 years ago, which only three years after the formal dissolution of the Warsaw Pact or the Warsaw Treaty Organization, and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union into its 15 constituent federal republics, only three years later NATO (undoubtedly at the instigation of the US) sought out Ukraine as the first former Soviet nation to be brought into that transitional program.
That same Partnership for Peace military program was the one used to cultivate 12 new military full members of NATO in the decade between 1999 and 2009, starting with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; seven more countries, including the three former Soviet republics in the Baltics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2004; and then two Balkans countries in 2009.
So, what we are seeing is that the US, the Pentagon, more specifically, and the NATO has had their sight set on Ukraine a long time back. So, to claim that a massive military expansion in the eastern Europe over the past 11 months of so is in any way specifically a response to the ‘annexation’ of Crimea or the fighting in the southeast Ukraine, is misleading people. The fact is that the US wanted to incorporate Ukraine into the NATO to consolidate the new military iron curtain that runs along Russia’s entire western border, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. That is incontestable.
Now Ukraine is devastated and if we look at the similar examples in Europe, like Kosovo, for instance, there are quite dim prospects that this country is going to get more structured and more stable, and more peaceful. So, would NATO really want this kind of member?
Rick Rozoff: A statement was reported in Polish press and Polish radio by the infamous, if you don’t mind the adjective of my own, Zbigniew Brzezinski – the former national security adviser to Carter administration and major Russophobe geostrategist, who cautioned the West at an event in Poland, perhaps, that bringing Ukraine into NATO would be neither good for NATO, nor for Ukraine. And he is correct.
However, using Ukraine as a territory from which NATO can operate is in many ways much more advantageous, than bringing it in as a full member. And first of all, we have to recall that NATO stipulates quite clearly their preconditions for the full membership in the block.
And two of the obstacles confronting Ukraine currently are: first of all, there could be no territorial conflicts in the nation (and there is vis-à-vis Crimea, certainly from the point of view of junta in Kiev, but also there is the fighting around the Donetsk and Lugansk region); number two – there can be no foreign military personnel on the territory of the candidate member state. And by “foreign” I think we are safe in assuming “non-NATO”. In other words, there could be a proliferation of US, German, French, Italian and British troops, but if there is one Russian peacekeeper anywhere in the disputed area, that is considered a foreign military presence.
So, the fact that the Russian Black Sea fleet for a long time has been in the Crimea, it automatically would have disqualified Ukraine under any conditions for full NATO membership. So, the obvious conclusion to draw from that is that the Russian Black Sea fleet had to be evicted.
And I'm certain that that was the act of intent, based on the orders they receive from the likes of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev, that was the intent of the new junta in February – to evict the Russian Black Sea fleet and consolidate the nation under the pro-Western orientation, so as to bring it into the NATO fold.
So, is it advantageous for Ukraine to be in NATO? Not more than for Georgia. And, by the way, we should note that for at least the last decade those two countries formed a couple that we consider to be integratable at the same time. And the plan was for NATO to bring them both in simultaneously.
As we know, Georgia also has unresolved territorial conflicts and it still has foreign troops on what they claim to be their territory – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. And we also know, by the way, that the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 was modeled after the so-called Rose Revolution in Georgia in the preceding year.
In the case of Georgia it brought to the forefront Mikhail Saakashvili, who is the US-educated attorney graduated from the Columbia University, and whom Mr. Brzezinski taught; and we know that Viktor Yushchenko, who copied his example in 2004, is married to an American Cathy Yushchenko, who was born and raised here in Chicago. So, there is an American hand in the color revolutions in both countries, but the two are considered to be a doublet to be incorporated simultaneously.
Another thing that is important to know, as much obliquely, as it is being poured at Viktor Yanukovych right now in the Western media and by the Western government officials trying to portray him, in essence, as a Russian puppet or something of this sort, under Yanukovych Ukraine became the first non-NATO country to supply a military vessel for the NATO’s permanent naval surveillance and interdiction operation in the Mediterranean, Operation Active Endeavor.
Then, shortly thereafter his Government supplied a vessel, again, the first non-NATO one to do it, to NATO’s now permanent naval operation off the Horn of Africa in the Arabian Sea, operation Ocean Shield, and up until the coup d'état in February this year in Ukraine, it was one of four non-NATO countries that was going to be incorporated into the NATO’s new international response force. The other tree being Georgia and another double, if you will, Finland and Sweden.
So, we see that the integration process with Ukraine has been underway for a long time. We have to remember that the Leonid Kuchma Government supplied 2000 troops for the occupation of Iraq after 2003, as part of the arrangements under the NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. So, Ukraine was already well underway towards being integrated into NATO. And what it appears is that the US may have overplayed its geopolitical hand in the area and setback its plans to bring Ukraine as the full member into the NATO.
But what is NATO’s ultimate goal? Is it to attack Russia or, perhaps, use a different tactics on Russia?
Rick Rozoff: I've been long saying, and I think even an amateur military strategist or a student of military history can tell you – you don’t besiege a country, unless you intend to starve it out or attack it. And since the major round of NATO expansion in 2004 where they brought in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, they immediately, within weeks, if not days, setup a permanent what they refer to as an air policing operation in Lithuania. What these are, are air patrols by advanced generation warplanes.
Initially, there were four planes. That’s been brought up now to, I think, six times that number, if I'm not mistaken. It is in the neighborhood of 20 or 24 warplanes permanently, patrolling the Baltic from Lithuania. A comparable air base has been upgraded and turned over to NATO and the US in Estonia. A new one is on its way in Latvia as well.
The US has taken over, essentially, the Lask air base in Poland, where it is rotating F-16 warplanes, in addition to 48 F-16s they’ve basically compelled the Polish Government to purchase at the beginning of this year. You know, Poland does not have 48 F-16s for any other reason, than to confront Russia.
Similarly, in Bulgaria and Romania in 2008-2009 the US secured 8 major military bases, including at least 3 large-scale or major, potentially strategic air bases. And this goes on all the way down the line. The world’s first multinational strategic airlift operation is conducted by the US and NATO out of an air base in Hungary now.
So, the entire western flank of Russia, let me please emphasize that again, the entire western flank of Russia is now witnessing an increase in NATO military activities – the opening and upgrading of new military bases, the deployment of 600 US paratroopers to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the rotation of the US F-16s from Italy to Poland, the permanent Taskforce East (a multiservice military operation, operating out of Bulgaria and Romania), a Black Sea rotational force (component of the US marine corps in the same area) and we could go, incidentally, four years ago, the deployment of the US Patriot Advanced Capability-3 longer-range interceptor missiles in Poland, some 30 miles from the Russian territory, the Kaliningrad.
So, what is indisputable, and I think the significant fact right now is that… And that doesn’t even take into account the building of the US interceptor missile system where they are going to be deploying an advanced, a new generation interceptor missiles in Poland and Romania, as well as the surveillance radar facilities. So, you know, given all that (and I have by no means exhausted the deployment of NATO facilities and equipment, and personnel in the area), the inevitable conclusion I would have to draw from that, is that somebody is preparing for a war with Russia.
And I might cite an article yesterday from Stars and Stripes, which is the official newspaper of the American armed forces, they talked about a recently concluded war game in Germany, the scenario for which was: a nation invades Estonia and it resulted, amongst other things, in missile strikes and cyber warfare. And I’ll leave it to your listeners’ imagination which country is intended as the aggressor in that scenario.
But this is a suicidal scenario for the US! Russia is not Libya, Russia is not Iraq. We are a nuclear power.
Rick Rozoff: I'm fully aware of the fact that Russia is a nuclear power. But I also know that the US has perfected the method of game theory, if you will. This is very cynical and, ultimately, it may be a catastrophic and even an apocalyptic gambit on the part of the US, but the intent is to test the Russian resolve, see how they respond to various events. If they appear to be willing to concede, then keep pushing and escalating the pressure to see how far they can get away with it.
Look, the US in the post-Cold War period, but particularly in the last 15 years, they engineered a 78-day air war against the European country for the first time, incidentally. You know, the act of aggression against the European country, since Hitler and Mussolini’s wars of the late 1930s and early 1940s. It put onto display for the entire world the impedance of the world community to intervene to stop that war.
And then, shortly thereafter we have the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the devastation of Syria, the overthrow of governments in the Ivory Coast and Yemen, and an attempt to replicate that model in a very bloody manner in Syria, and on and on. Unless the world community draws the line, the US has not incentive to stop.
And in this case Europe and its European allies are held hostage.
Rick Rozoff: They are held hostage is the kindest interpretation of that. I think one should rather look into the curriculum vitae, into the biographies of the heads of states of Europe. You will discover, for example, that the head of the state of Estonia, whose country is the imaginary victim of something that could trigger the WW III, is an American citizen – Toomas Ilves. He was raised in the US, he worked for Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, which is, at the very least, for the State Department.
Up until a few years ago his counterpart in Lithuania was Valdas Adamkus, another American citizen who lived here in Chicago for decades, who also worked for the US Federal Government. And at about the same time the head of state of Latvia was a woman who was raised in Canada and worked for the foreign government.
You know, first of all, we have to understand who we are talking about. And we are talking about the heads of states and other political figures in Europe. We are talking about the people who belong to transnational think tanks and planning bodies. The US Atlantic Council, for example, which is the major think tank promoting NATO development and expansion around the world, has its counterparts in 30 or 40 other countries, including most every European country. They have essentially seduced, if not bribed or recruited, most every political leader in Europe. First of all, we have to be clear about that.
The fact that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday had to finally have some harsh words about the German political leadership, and I'm thinking in particular of what he said vis-à-vis Chancellor Angela Merkel, I think he’d exposed this charade that there is an independent foreign policy orientation in Europe and, somehow, that a person like Chancellor Merkel is one person when she is wearing her EU credentials, and another one when she is wearing her NATO credentials, nothing could be further from the truth.
The EU and NATO are effectively merging. Not only their military, but their foreign policy orientations and programs, including sharing the military command or sharing the military bases, sharing the military assets. You know, it is a very delicate question right now – where NATO ends and the EU begins. So, I think that anyone sitting in Moscow, who believes that there is some essential difference between the EU orientation of the European leaders and the NATO ones, he’d better go back to the drawing board and reevaluate their perspective. They’ve made a dangerous, if not a fatal mistake.
We have to keep in mind, when this whole tragedy in Ukraine began in November of last year, the Yanukovych Government did not refuse, but simply delayed the signing of what was called an association agreement with the EU, the one that was being pushed by the US, I hardly need to add. And anyone who’s seen the document noticed that it has a very strong military component. It would effectively integrate Ukraine into the Western military structures. You know, whether there was an EU or a NATO stamp on it, it almost doesn’t matter, because the two – the EU and NATO – are united under a program of the 1990s, called the Berlin Plus Agreement, which effectively merges the militaries of those two organizations.