NATO Meeting in Brussels Heightens Danger of War with Russia


In-depth Report:

11039-400x287NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels today to consolidate the military alliance against Russia, increasing the risk of a direct military confrontation between nuclear-armed powers.

NATO sources have revealed plans to establish a long-term presence in Eastern Europe, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS). So-called NATO “Force Integration Units” will be established in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. There are also plans to deploy such a unit in Hungary at a later time.

The units will consist of 40 soldiers each. They will be tasked with preparing exercises for a new NATO rapid response force and coordinating military activities in emergencies. Germany, which is spearheading the operation this year, intends to deploy a total of 25 soldiers within the units.

The ground troops of the rapid response force are to consist of a brigade of some 5,000 soldiers. The goal is for their most flexible units to have the capability to move to a new location within 48 hours. The entire brigade will be trained and equipped to be able to move to a new location within a week. The leadership of the operation will rotate yearly between NATO member countries.

According to the FAS, NATO defense ministers have already decided on the equipment to be provided during the “test phase,” which is to last until the beginning of next year. Starting in April, a company of German paratroopers will supplement American units that have been stationed in the Baltic States and Poland since last year.

Two weeks ago, the FAS revealed that NATO defense ministers will convene the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) at the beginning of today’s meeting to discuss “the nuclear threat scenario from Russia in the past few months.”

Unlike previous years, according to the FAS, this will not merely be a routine meeting. An analysis of threat scenarios worked out at NATO headquarters will be presented to the defense ministers. Afterwards, the ministers “will for the first time discuss the consequences for the nuclear strategy of the alliance.” A separate consultation session is planned with France, which is not a member of the NPG.

NATO’s nuclear simulations underscore the fact that the imperialist powers are ready to risk nuclear war in order to force Russia to its knees. In the past week, a number of prominent figures, including former Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev, have warned of the danger of a Third World War if NATO, led by the United States, continues to take aggressive measures against Russia.

Under conditions of escalating fighting between troops of the Western-backed Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Gorbachev warned of a “hot war” that “could well inevitably turn into an atomic war.”

On Sunday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the Russian military expert Yevgeny Buchinsky, who warned that, in response to an offensive against the Donbass by Kiev,

“Russia will have to intervene, and then, bluntly speaking, to take Kiev. Then NATO would be in a difficult situation. Then you would have to start World War III, which no one wants.”

In spite of such warnings, the imperialist powers and their proxies in Kiev are escalating the conflict. On Monday, the New York Times revealed that the Obama administration is considering sending advanced weapons to Kiev. The newspaper listed high-ranking current and former administration officials and military officers who are pushing for such a move.

The Times report triggered opposition among sections of the European elite. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that a decision by Washington to arm the Kiev regime with offensive weapons would be taken by Russia as the equivalent of a declaration of war. Russian officials and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke against any such move during a visit to Hungary.

Washington intends to use today’s NATO meeting to bring the member states into line behind its provocative and reckless course. At the beginning of the week, Alexander Vershbow, a former US ambassador to Russia and currently the deputy secretary general of NATO, referred to “Russian aggression” in Ukraine as a “game changer in European security.”

He emphasized the necessity of deploying rapid response troops in Eastern Europe, extending NATO’s reach in the east, and arming the Ukrainian military. Referring to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, all former Soviet republics, he said,

“The more stable they are, the more secure we are. So helping Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova—to strengthen their military forces, reform their institutions and modernize their economies—is not an act of generosity, it is in our fundamental strategic interest.”

He added,

“NATO is doing its part. To help Ukraine to modernize and reform its armed forces, we have launched five trust funds to assist in areas like command and control, logistics, cyber defense and military medicine. We are sending more advisors to Kiev and will be carrying out exercises with Ukraine’s armed forces. And we are helping Moldova and Georgia to strengthen their defense capacity in similar ways, and, in Georgia’s case, to help it prepare for future membership in the Alliance.”

At the end of his speech, Vershbow warned:

“This time around, having chosen our course, we must stick to it. We must stay united, stay firm and increase the costs to Russia of its aggression.”

Meanwhile, voices in favor of arming Ukraine are growing louder. Michael Gahler (Germany’s Christian Democratic Union—CDU), who is the spokesman on security policy for the European People’s Party in the European Union parliament, spoke in favor of sending weapons to Ukraine in an interview on Deutschlandfunk radio.

Wolfgang Ischinger, leader of the Munich Security Conference, which takes place this weekend, has adopted the same line. On ZDF Television he spoke in favor of the “announcement of possible weapons shipments” to Ukraine. “Sometimes one needs to use pressure to enforce peace,” he declared. While he cautioned that Germany should not send weapons, he said he could “imagine that other members of the alliance would want to do this.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, whose regime was brought to power nearly a year ago by a fascist-led putsch backed by the US and Germany, and has since waged a brutal war against the population of eastern Ukraine, made an appearance yesterday in Kharkiv, which is near the border with Russia and the contested areas. He said that “we will need lethal weapons, and I am sure that foreign weapons will be sent to Ukraine.” He continued: “I don’t have any doubt that the US and other partners will provide help with lethal weapons so that Ukraine will be able to defend itself.”

Poroshenko will take part in the Munich Security Conference along with 20 other heads of state and 60 foreign and defense ministers. He is meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Kiev today.

Crowd of Several Hundred Tries to Storm Ukrainian Presidential Administration Office


In-depth Report:

Ukraine-anniversary-Maidan-coup-4-400x270A crowd of several hundred people has begun storming the Ukrainian presidential administration’s office, a TASS correspondent reports from the scene.

Protest demonstrators have penetrated the first cordon of the National Guards and are trying to make their way to the conference hall. Police forces are being moved in. National guards in full riot gear entered a brawl with the demonstrators, who are demanding access to TV cameras for a statement.

Earlier, demonstrators demanded the introduction of martial law and resignation of all top law enforcement officials, including the defense minister and prosecutor-general.

Also, one of their demands is the removal of the 25th Kievan Rus battalion of the Ukrainian armed forces from the area of Debaltsevo. Women from the Mothers’ Union have told TASS their sons could not have been contacted for the past several days.

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The Daily Beast interviews pro-Kiev militia commander Yuriy Bereza


pro-Kiev militia commander Yuriy Bereza


In an exclusive interview, one of the top pro-Kiev militia commanders talks about the cowardice of some of Ukraine’s regular army officers and his need for U.S. weapons.
DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine—When skirmishes began in this corner of eastern Ukraine earlier this year, Yuriy Bereza decided to use “direct action” (read fists and clubs), threats, and incentives to ensure this fourth largest city—and a mainly Russian-speaking one—didn’t slide into rebel hands as DonetskandLuhansk had done.Bereza, a veteran of the Orange Revolution of mass protests against Russian-backed governments, joined forces with a group of local businessmen, including billionaire oligarchIgorKolomoisky, to make sure this city stayed on the Ukrainian side of the political divide.The strategy seems to have worked. In the Dnipropetrovsk’s regional administration building on a frigid Saturday morning, I waited for him along with members ofBereza’sDnipro Battalion, a motley militia that has been in the forefront of a weeks-long battle three hours away at Donetsk airport. They wanted to welcomeBereza back from a 10-day trip to Washington, D.C.This stocky 44-year-old grandfather with a neatly cropped beard arrived in an ebullient mood, laughing often and easily as, behind closed doors with some of his lieutenants, he narrated his adventures in America to a chorus of loud guffaws. But make no mistake, this former officer in the Soviet and Ukrainian armies is a man on a mission—to take back the Donbass region from the separatists and to exorcise Russian political influence on Ukraine. 

Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty

Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty


“During the Orange Revolution we were all romantics—we were all romantics being shot at—and now we are determined to be free of Russian oppression,” he tells me in his office decorated with maps and Ukrainian flags and crests, two removed from Crimea before it was annexed by Russia last spring.

Bereza took the same message to U.S. lawmakers in closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill, telling them they need to do more for Ukraine. “I tried to explain that World War III has started and is being fought in east Ukraine and there is no way the U.S. cannot be involved in the fight,” says Bereza. “It can delay but it will have to intervene some time or another—later in the Baltics when Moscow is threatening them and maybe Poland.”

Bereza’s views about World War III and American reluctance to engage offended some of his audience on the Hill. “Democrats didn’t like what I had to say and at one meeting they tried to get out of the room because I was being very harsh on President Obama,” he laughs. He said that on the whole he got a better reception from Republicans, especially the pugnacious Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “He’s a huge man,” said Bereza.

On Tuesday, amid alarms about a renewed invasion threat by Russian forces, the Arizona senator once again urged President Barack Obama to take more action. “The United States and the European Union must provide Ukraine with the arms and related military and intelligence support that its leaders have consistently sought and desperately need,” McCain said in a statement.

Last week, the Pentagon announced delivery of three lightweight, counter-mortar radar systems to the Ukrainian army—part of a $118 million package of “non-lethal equipment and training” the U.S. has committed. Moscow has warned the U.S. not to supply weapons to Ukraine, saying it would amount to an escalation and breach the ceasefire accord reached two months ago in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.

Ukraine’s militiamen ask “What ceasefire?” According to the United Nations, almost 1,000 people have died since the Minsk truce agreement was inked—an average of 13 dead a day. Fighting remains intense in flashpoints in the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine’s two easternmost provinces. Artillery and mortar duels all around the outskirts of Donetsk rumble angrily every day.

At the weekend, four Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded, according to security officials in Kiev, who claim Russia now has 7,500 troops deployed on Ukrainian soil to back pro-Moscow separatists.

Bereza says what the U.S. is giving is not enough. His shopping list includes surveillance drones. (At the moment, his troops are flying small amateur ones that have a short range and can’t cope with harsh weather conditions). And he would especially like American FGM-148 Javelins, man-portable anti-tank missiles to hit at Russian armor.

But the 500 men in Bereza’s militia are not the Ukrainian army. Most have little military experience. They are shop managers, salesmen, students, and accountants. “I have no idea how many of them have had military training before,” he tells me later with a chuckle.

The Dnipro Battalion is one of 37 pro-unity militias—they are formally known as territorial defense battalions—which were formed this year as exasperation mounted at the inaction and ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian armed forces up against the pro-Russian separatist forces spreading across Donbass. Moscow paints them all as far-right groups such as Right Sector, calling them terrorists, a term the Kremlin doesn’t apply to the separatists. But the 15,000 militiamen come from a variety of political backgrounds and formally, at least, the battalions are legal forces subordinate to the interior ministry.

Dnipro has become a vanguard militia, along with the Aidar, Azov, and Donbass battalions, and last month the unit claimed the slaying of the highest ranking Russian soldier to die in the war in the Donbass, Gen. Sergey Andreychenko, who was killed in a firefight in Telmanove.

Despite its creditable fighting performance, Dnipro relations with army commanders can be tense and in August they nearly flared into a firefight. Bereza says he thought about shooting Gen. Petro Lytvyn, the Ukrainian army officer commanding on the ground during the battle for Ilovaisk, an engagement that left at least a hundred Ukrainian militiamen and soldiers dead and possibly as many as 500 taken prisoner.

Bereza accuses Lytvyn of abandoning his post along with many of his men as Russian reinforcements poured across the border at Amvrosiivka and made for Ilovaisk, a rail hub that Ukrainian forces were attempting to wrest from the separatists. The covert invasion by thousands of Russian troops backed by tanks hardly was registered by an international media focused on the sweeping offensive of jihadist forces in Iraq and Syria. And Western capitals sought to play down the Russian invasion.

According to Bereza and other militia commanders, Lytvyn’s flight left militiamen encircled. In the end he told the general he should shoot himself for his cowardice. Bereza suffered a concussion in the subsequent fighting, the commander of the Donbass battalion was wounded and his counterpart in the Kharkiv militia was killed. A withdrawal agreement for the encircled Ukrainians, made with the Russians and separatists, was not honored and a column of retreating Ukrainians was wiped out as it came under mortar and heavy machine-gun fire.

The defeat at Ilovaisk, the worst reversal so far for Ukrainian fortunes in the war in the Donbass, prompted Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to agree to the Minsk ceasefire and led to the resignation of Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey. But a criminal probe into the actions of top Ukrainian army commanders appears to have been shelved and the incident remains a nagging sore, adding to militias suspicious of the politicians in Kiev and whether they can be counted on.

The Minsk agreement rankles. “It would be possible to capture Donetsk. But it is only Ukraine that restrains itself to abide by the accord,” says Bereza. “We are fighting in the east and we still have traitors in our parliament,” he frets. “But we can’t have another revolution, that would fall into a Russian trap.”


Evidence of heavily damaged civilian homes by Ukrainian mortars.

These videos were posted by a journalist and a photographer to youtube:

Kramatorsk Donbass

Apartment complex that have been heavily damaged by Ukrainian mortars

Ukrainian mortars hitting civilian homes in the city of Kramatorsk

2nd July 2014 Mortars hitting Kramatorsk

An 80 year old woman’s apartment takes a direct mortar hit

1st July Kramatorsk: destruction of civilian homes by Ukrainian mortar attack. 

1st July Kramatorsk: school hit with mutiple direct hots from Ukrainain mortars.

Kramatorsk city centre is getting shelled by mortars

Killing non-combatants (civilians) and destroying cities, towns and villages (not warranted by military necessity) during the time of war are WAR CRIMES, according to Geneva Convention, and war criminals committing such atrocities should be prosecuted at the Hague International Tribunal.

Russia preparing new package of documents for MH17 crash probe

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21 November 2014

Russia is preparing a new package of documents for the Netherlands’ commission investigating the crash of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight in eastern Ukraine. The package will be sent in response for the commission’s request, RIA Novosti quoted deputy head of the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) Oleg Storchevoy as saying. “Everything that we have available and that could help in investigating the crash, we are ready to hand over – and we are doing this – to the Netherlands,” he said.

Obama: U.S. to train, arm Ukraine national guard in 2015

Ukraine troops Slavyansk

Ukraine troops Slavyansk


The Obama administration has notified Congress of its plans to train and arm the Ukrainian national guard next year, the Pentagon said on Friday, as Washington continues to intensify its response to Moscow’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defense,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The training, which requires congressional approval, would occur at a location within Ukraine that hosts multilateral exercises, Kirby said. The trainers would be provided by U.S. Army Europe and by the California National Guard, he added.

While Kirby did not link the training to the West’s deepening standoff with Russia over Ukraine. The announcement comes as the United States and other Western nations seek to tighten pressure on Moscow after the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in Ukraine by what Western nations say was a Russia-supplied missile.

Earlier on Friday, President Barack Obama urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and to seek a diplomatic end to the crisis. Washington and European nations announced new sanctions against Russia earlier this week.

While the United States has repeatedly slammed Russia’s troop buildup along the border with Ukraine and its support for the rebels, the Obama administration has limited military assistance to non lethal aid such as medical supplies and helmets.

Also on Friday, the United States pledged about $8 million in new aid to bolster the Ukrainian border guard service.