Thursday, April 2, 2015

Putin spokesman slams Times 'demonizing' Russia over perceived nuclear threat

Published time: April 02, 2015 13:12
Edited time: April 02, 2015 14:13 

 Black Sea Fleet sailors during the Navy Day parade rehearsal in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Konstantin Chalabov)
Black Sea Fleet sailors during the Navy Day parade rehearsal in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Konstantin Chalabov)
Russia never threatened to use nuclear weapons over Crimea and the Baltic States, according to Vladimir Putin’s press secretary. The Kremlin official added the claims were simply 'hysteria' and a 'classic example' of the West’s demonization of Russia.
“This is a classic example of the continuing hysteria and the demonization of our country. They themselves are fanning the flames concerning this. However, it is not guided by any particular facts and they themselves are afraid of what they wrote,” Peskov told reporters.
The Times newspaper said that President Putin was using the threat of a “nuclear showdown” over the Baltic States, to force NATO to back away from Russia’s border. They made the claims after obtaining notes of high-level security talks between former Russian and American security chiefs.

US officials stated that President Putin was ready to respond forcibly to any further NATO build-up of troops in the Baltic States and they would deliver “a spectrum of responses from nuclear to non-military,” the Times added.
The American military figures also stated that the Russian generals allegedly raised three flashpoints that “could lead to a direct and possibly even nuclear confrontation between the two nations.”
According to the Times, the potential flashpoints include any attempt by the West to return Crimea to Ukraine, NATO supplying Kiev with lethal weapons and the Baltic States, where according to the US officials, Russian security figures said they saw, “the same conditions that existed in Ukraine and caused Russia to take action there.”
Celebrating the Crimean Spring anniversary in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Biyatov)
Celebrating the Crimean Spring anniversary in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Biyatov)

Peskov added it is “impossible to seriously acknowledge such publications.” Putin’s press secretary said Russia had never threatened to use nuclear weapons in connection with events in Crimea. Those who wrote the articles hadn’t bothered to read the original source, which were Vladimir Putin’s words concerning the recently released documentary, aired on Russian television, ‘Crimea - The Way Home.’
“The president talked about this if you remember in the documentary film, which they interpret in different ways. However, they did not even bother to watch it through or even read the transcript,”Peskov concluded.

During the documentary, Putin said K-300P Bastion costal defense missiles were deployed in Crimea to demonstrate Russia’s willingness to protect the peninsula from military attack.
“We deployed them in a way that made them clearly visibly from space,” Putin said in the documentary broadcast on March 15.
The president gave an assurance that the Russian military were prepared for any developments and would have armed nuclear weapons if necessary. Putin said he wasn’t sure whether Western nations would refrain from military force against Russia.
“We were ready to do this. I had spoken with colleagues and told them that Crimea is historically our territory and Russian people live there. They were in danger and we could not leave them. We did not create a coup d'état. This was done by nationalists and people with extremist beliefs. You supported them. But where are you? Thousands of kilometers away! But we are here and this is our land!” Putin said in the documentary.
Russia has long been critical of NATO carrying out military drills in the Baltic States near its borders.

Thousands of US troops and hundreds of tanks have poured into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the past two months as part of an operation dubbed “Atlantic Resolve.” In February, 140 NATO vehicles and 1,400 troops swept through Narva, a mere 300 meters from the Russian border.

“As you connect countries, there is almost a line of US troops,” Defense News cited Colonel Michael Foster of the 173rd Airborne Brigade as saying on March 2. US forces have previously held joint war games with Baltic nations, with names such as “Saber Strike,” “Spring Storm” and “Flaming Sword.”
A 1997 Russia-NATO agreement forbids the alliance from having troops permanently stationed in the Baltic States, so the deployment remains a temporary mission. However, it’s not clear when, if ever, NATO will consider the ‘perceived’ threat of Russian aggression is no longer valid and withdraw their troops. Drills incorporated into Operation Atlantic Resolve have been taking place since April 2014.

Where Else Will German Soldier Be Sent to?

Natalia MEDEN | 02.04.2015 | 09:46
A Conference about German Foreign and Security Policy took place in late March at Konigsronn, a municipality in Baden - Württemberg, southern Germany. The event was organized by the German Bundeswehr Association, the German Armed Forces Reservists' Association and the Federal Academy for Security Policy. The Konigsronn conference is an event where the issues addressed at the Munich security conference are discussed in a more business-like manner. Unlike in Munich, there are no foreign guests. Volker Wieker, the Chief of Staff (lit. Inspector General) of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Ambassador Wolfgang, the Bundestag representative for the Bundeswehr Helmut Kenighaus and Henning Otte, the CDU/CSU defence policy spokesman in the Bundestag, were among the speakers. They talked about the growing threat of armed conflicts in the world and the ways to prevent and manage them. 
Due to historic reasons the use of armed forces is a special issue on Germany’s security agenda. For 70 years the United States has been closely monitoring the compliance of Germany with restrictions imposed on its military. During the Cold War the German military was created not as German national armed forces but rather as a force under NATO command - the Alliance’s «strike force element» in Europe. Only after the unification of the country German military was sent to take part in so-called peacekeeping missions (the first mission abroad was participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia in 1992–93). 
In the 1990s German politicians solemnly promised that a German serviceman will never step on the land trampled by the boots of Wehrmacht soldiers. NATO attacked Yugoslavia in 1999. Germans remembered about the «duty towards the Allies». Then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Fischer, talked about making Serbs «stand on their knees». Some time passed. In 2014 Germany started to discuss the possibility of sending paratroopers to Ukraine. Not a single German politician remembered that German military should not go to the lands where Hitler’s Wehrmacht committed its bloody crimes. 
Step by step Germany is leaving the remaining bans and restrictions behind. For instance; last year Germany broke its word not to send arms to conflict areas and delivered military aid to Kurds fighting the Islamic State, including grenade launchers, machine guns and rifles. Listening to the participants of recent Konigsronn debates one thing stroke an eye. They compared the Islamic State to the «separatists» in the Ukraine’s south-east. 
True, some restrictions are still in force. For instance, Germany refused to sell Leopard main battle tanks to Lithuania when it took a decision to modernize its military against the background of «the threat coming from the East.» But right after that the Lithuanian ambassador to Germany was invited to address the German parliament so that he could tell about the threat posed to «democratic Ukraine» by «Russian aggression» 
Germany decided it needed the tanks for itself. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has recently ordered to cancel the previous decision to scrap obsolete Leopard tanks. It can be surmised the out-of-date vehicles will be delivered to Ukraine. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, who had spoken for reduction of military expenditure, said a couple of weeks ago that the defense budget will be increased starting from 2017. 
Former Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière used to complain about German pacifism. His successor Ursula von der Leyen knew what to do. Since last year she started to tell Germans about Bundeswehr being poorly equipped (rifles get overheated, ships don’t sail and so on). Now she is sure that Germans started to realize that there is no such thing as free lunch and security is something to be paid for. She likes to cite Henry Kissinger who once said that Germany could not shake off the burden of responsibility. 
How does Germany demonstrate that it is responsible and independent? Allowing new US tanks come to Bavaria? Such a prominent figure as Franz Josef Strauss, the chairman of the Christian Social Union, a member of the federal cabinet in different positions and long-time minister-president of the state of Bavaria, did not like the fact that occupation forces were deployed on German soil. 27 years have passed since his death. Nothing has changed. The US nuclear weapons are still based in Germany, no matter in 2009 the coalition agreement reached by the two sides calls specifically for talks with NATO and the US to remove the weapons. 
One way or another, the Defense Ministry’s propaganda campaign brings results. According to recent polls, 30-40% of population support the increase of military spending. The government continues the effort. It’s worth to note that besides 400 politicians, military, experts and journalists, 300 ordinary citizens took part in the Konigsronn debates, including 100 school-goers. The propaganda campaign to increase grassroots support for boosting military power also targets young Germans. 
Addressing the conference in Konigsronn, Captain Andreas Steinmetz of the German Bundeswehr Association said the Bundeswehr «must be ready to act». Lieutenant General Richard Rossmanith, Commander of the Multinational Joint Headquarters in Ulm, Germany, said the world was plunging into disorder and it was up to Germans to change the trend (!). 
Europe should know what words are spoken today in Konigsronn, the homeland of Johann Georg Elser, a German cabinet maker who planned and carried out an elaborate assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking Nazi leaders, on 8 November 1939 at the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall frequented by Nazi in Munich. A time bomb concealed inside a pillar in the Bürgerbräukeller was set to go off during Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch address on 8 November. Hitler had left 13 minutes before the explosion. Elser was caught by Gestapo at the Swiss border. He was held without trial as a special prisoner of Adolf Hitler for over five years until executed in Dachau concentration camp on April 9, 1945. Today the fact that this year the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of Great Victory over Nazi Germany is hushed up in Germany. This attitude towards history prevails in Germany today. Young Germans will grow up. Will they then know who was Johann Georg Elser and what he gave his life for?