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.

Breaking news US closes Bagram detention center in Afghanistan

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Released Afghan prisoners raise their hands in prayer as the United States-led military released 20 Afghan prisoners from its Bagram Air Field detention centre, north of Kabul (AFP Photo / Farzana Wahidy)

RT Breaking News

The US Defense Department announced it has closed the Bagram detention center and now has zero detainees in its custody in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Although the United States transferred control over Bagram to the Afghans back in 2013, the detention center became infamous due the harsh treatment some of the detainees received while in American custody. At one point, it was double the size of the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison complex in Cuba.

The facility’s closure comes just one day after the Senate released its long-awaited torture report, which described the gruesome tactics deployed by the CIA against terror suspects in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Senate accuses CIA of torturing prisoners, overstepping legal boundaries

Two of the most infamous cases involved prisoners named Habibullah and Dilawar, whose abuse was chronicled by The New York Times in 2005. Dilawar – who was chained to the top of his cell for days by the time he died – was brutally beaten and passed away in 2002.

“At the interrogators’ behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend,” wrote Tim Golden in the Times.

“An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.”

Habibullah, who died just a few days before Dilawar, was also chained to the ceiling and beaten. The Times noted that he was struck more than 100 times in a 24-hour period.

READ MORE: ‘The Other Guantanamo’ – Indefinite detention at Bagram Air Force Base

As recently as this past September, there were still questions about the fate of the detainees being held at Bagram. It was unclear how many people remained in American custody, but with the US gradually drawing down its war in Afghanistan, officials said the legal authority allowing them to continue holding prisoners was about to expire.

“We’ve got to resolve their fate by either returning them to their home country or turning them over to the Afghans for prosecution or any other number of ways that the Department of Defense has to resolve,” said Brigadier General Patrick Reinert, the commanding general of the United States Army Reserve Legal Command, at the time. “Until the country provides assurances, the individual cannot be transferred.”

US Torture Report & the Release of Detainees from GITMO – What it Means for the Future of US Terror Policy

Tonight’s “Everything You Need to Know” panel discusses the release of six Guantanamo Bay detainees, and what implications the US Terror Report will have on GITMO and terrorism combat tactics. Alka Pradhan of Reprieve US, CODEPINK’s Media Benjamin, and retired colonel, Ann Wright, debate the issue.
Author William Black talks about falling global oil prices that are impacting on economies worldwide. Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves examines religion and equal rights. Plus our “Your Take My Take” on geeky science.

‘How Ukraine was turned into a failed state in a year’

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

A Ukrainian anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during clashes with riot police in central Kiev early on January 25, 2014. (AFP Photo / Dmitry Serebryakov)

As a country with few socio-economic and political problems Ukraine has turned into a failed state torn by civil war and sectarian violence, with a lack of constitutional order and a destroyed economy, foreign affairs expert Nebojsa Malic told RT.

Malic added that there has been a lot of talk about financial assistance for Ukraine but none of that has actually materialized.

“The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better,” he said.

RT: American and European officials have made numerous trips to Ukraine over the past year, making tempting promises regarding the bright future for the country alongside the Western states. Were they fulfilled?

Nebojsa Malic: None of the promises were fulfilled. In fact, Ukraine is far worse off than a year ago in unimaginable ways. From a country that was having problems financially, socially and politically, it has basically transited to a failed state torn apart by a civil war, sectarian violence, oligarchs, private armies, Nazis, a coup government, complete lack of constitutional order, and on top economic problems that get much worse.

RT: Mr. Biden, who’s visiting Kiev today, has promised to deliver a “strong message” supporting the Ukrainian government and people. Will he be heard and/or believed?

NM: I’m sure that the people in power in Kiev will believe anything that they are told because their entire rule rests on perception management, that they are a legitimate government backed by the West which they equate with the entire world. As for the people, I’m not sure that Biden’s words will keep anybody warm or fed this winter. Biden, wherever he goes, things don’t turn out particularly well. Likewise these biscuits that Victoria Nuland handed out last December are the thing of the past at this point. Press people are wondering where the next meal is going to come from. Essentially the entire message from the US is “You people go on and do your thing, we will back you up,” and the backup is never there. There has been no financial support for Ukraine’s debts or economic recovery. There has been a lot of talk of assistance but none of that has actually materialized. The only people that the US is actually funding are activists and all sorts of interested organizations that are at the business of perpetuating outrage but not really helping the society or the state get better.

RT: Victoria Nuland is set to join Mr. Biden. We remember the famous leaked remark of hers when speaking of Europe’s hesitant policy towards the protests on Maidan, showing how strongly the US controls the decision-making in terms of the Ukrainian crisis. Do you think Washington is happy with the results?

NM: It depends on what actual objectives of the intervention were. If the objective was to create intractable hostility between Kiev and Moscow, then yes, Washington has every right to be happy. If the objective is to create a normal functioning European-civilized Ukrainian state then no that has been a complete disaster from day one. Personally I think the objective was to create the conflict, to create the chaos, to create disorder, suffering and misery, so that the US government and the EU could bow in as liberators or knights in shining arms rescuing people, except there hasn’t been any rescue as they are neither capable of it, nor do they actually intend to perform it. If I was in charge of US foreign policy, I would chalk it up as a massive failure, if the objectives were, as officially stated, to create order and stability. But I’m not in charge and the objectives are not what they were officially stated.

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

Protesters carry a wounded protester during clashes with poliсe, after gaining new positions near the Independence square in Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP PHhoto / Louisa Gouliamaki)

RT: According to the UN figures, over 4,300 people were killed in the conflict in Ukraine. Where do you believe it is heading?

NM: Right now there is a ceasefire that is holding on paper and is not holding in practice. People are still dying every day; we have the President of Ukraine declaring that children of the rebels will be hunkering down in basements forever. There was hope in September when the Minsk accord was signed that it might create preconditions for a dialogue and a possible political solution. Unfortunately, so long as Kiev believes that it has unconditional support of the West to do whatever it wants, including what it rightly classified as war crimes, they will continue being aggressive and belligerent, refusing any sort of compromise or dialogue. They believe their rights are absolute, they believe they can do whatever they want and they will continue behaving accordingly. This is not a prescription for peace; this is a prescription for further conflict. I don’t know whether the war will continue throughout the winter, what sort of intensity, depending on how bad the winter is, but I’m certain that there are people in Kiev who have said so that they will resume hostilities at the first possible opportunity with the goal of taking the rebel regions and expelling the population that refuses to accept the current government.

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “It has been a disastrous year of very little progress. Different people have different perspectives. For example, some people in the west of Ukraine are very happy that the government of Yanukovich was overthrown by the street protests that took place in Kiev. If one looks at the eastern regions, it’s a disaster time – we are talking about some 4,500 deaths, many of those, if not the majority, are civilians. And also Ukraine forces and rebel fighters themselves are suffering terrible causalities. Maybe 450,000 have fled Ukraine to go to Russia, some another 400,000 people are internally displaced. The country continues to stagnate if not decline economically as a result of this.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “I think that the influence of external players is also important because until now it doesn’t appear that there has been a lot of pressure placed on the Poroshenko government and Poroshenko himself by his Western supporters, particularly NATO, the EU and the US, to seek out peace instead of seeking out victory. That peace, even as a Minsk agreement itself implicitly recognized a few weeks ago, does need some form of compromise and negotiation between the parties. That simply isn’t taking place in any meaningful way at the moment.”

Security analyst Charles Shoebridge on Ukraine: “There is a division in Ukraine society, not just between those of Russian-speaking or ethnically Russian descent, but even within those communities. The same in the west of Ukraine – you have Ukrainians, some are sick of the war, but there are also a strong nationalist and far-right elements that are prevalent in much of the west of Ukraine who are really not even in any mood to negotiate or give any way to what they describe as terrorists in the east, the rebel fighters, and who want this war prosecuted to a victory rather to any form of compromise.”

‘Donbass’ International Brigade

Reuters / Maxim Shemetov

Reuters / Maxim Shemetov

Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.

November 17, 2014

The strength and whereabouts of the International Brigade operating in east Ukraine is a secret. Yet it is possible to interview the unit’s ragtag troops. They have no single ideology or political affiliation.

But they do believe in accepting volunteers regardless of their background and religion.

The brigade’s ranks include Christians, Muslims and atheists; miners and novice monks; young and old; loners and family men. It even has a few young women.

Most of them have never even heard of the Spanish Civil War where the term “International Brigade” springs from. They have no idea of Communism or Socialism. Sticking to the old Soviet mindset, they still regard Nestor Makhno, the Donbass-born Civil War hero, a symbol of anarchy, while seeing Joseph Stalin as the epitome of order. They have no idea that it was Stalin who stopped aiding the International Brigades in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, effectively enabling General Franco’s Nationalists to win.

And if today’s International Brigade fighters are to win their war, they have yet to develop an ideology to underpin their unity. The only ideology they currently share is their brotherhood in arms.

Abkhazian

The International Brigade’s commander, 28 (call sign ‘Abkhaz’) is an ethnic Abkhazian coming from Sochi.

He was six when his father fought in Abkhazia.

“I am a war child,” he says.

His son is also six.

“When he grows up he’ll ask me whether I was watching the war in the news. Thousands of Russian citizens came over to fight this war; this is why I am here as well,” he explains.

Abkhaz has been here in Donetsk since the early summer.

He had served in the Armed Forces as a conscript at the Russian military base in Abkhazia. He was an infantry rifleman.

“We Abkhazians have been trained since childhood. We are hunters, so we are familiar with arms,” he says, “An armed people ensure their own security.”

Not all the rebels share his views however. Paradoxically, many are concerned that the Donbass residents rush to get their hands on weapons abandoned by Ukrainians – at times even ahead of the militias themselves.

His father and uncle were observers at the Donetsk elections.

Abkhaz joined the unit not because he wanted to start a new life, or because he was a failure back home. He had a degree in economics; and he had a job and did social activities in Sochi. He was growing vegetables in a greenhouse that his brothers and he had built. As for his social activities, he was planting trees, and helping establish relations between rap fans, racers, and other subculture groups with the city administration.

So Abkhaz joined the war not only as a skillful fighter but as someone with experience of settling ethnic and other kinds of conflicts. His background of communicating with the young in society in Sochi became handy here.

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

His father is a Muslim, and his mother is a Christian.

“What I’ve seen here is something I’ve dreamed of. This isn’t a war between Ukraine and Donbass; this is global showdown. They think we are a professional army or some kind of Special Forces – this is just ludicrous. I am attached to my homeland; I was enjoying myself working my grandmother’s garden. But I want to justify the confidence of my fighters who have chosen me as their commander. Most of them come from occupied areas; some are hereditary miners eager to restore their mines. I want to help them win their freedom – them and their cities, towns, and mines.”

This explanation makes the biggest sense out of everything I’ve heard so far. Others keep ranting about fighting the Kiev Fascists, junta, and oligarchs.

They believe they are fighting for the borders of the Donetsk Oblast:

“We’ll see what happens when we reach the borders of the Donetsk Republic. Some of my fighters who are from Kharkov and Zaporozhe want to move the borderline even further. Generally, the River Dnieper is the borderline. But I also wouldn’t rule out that the Ukrainian Army would turn around and go against Kiev.”

Chechen

“Emergency” is the call sign of a 22-year old Chechen. While being an only son, he still secured their blessing to go to war. His mother is a high school principal and an English teacher. His father had fought in the Georgian-Abkhazian War.

Emergency speaks Arabic having attended a madrasah. He was also trained as a lawyer, and did military service for a year. He has come to Donbass together with his uncle.

Emergency is on reconnaissance, and he cannot talk about his experience soldiering. He has only been back with his unit for two weeks, having recovered from shrapnel wound that had nearly ripped his carotid artery.

Emergency is a practicing Muslim.

“I get up at 5:30am to pray, ahead of everyone else,” he says. “I pray five times a day. There are also guys from Dagestan here. We Muslims get food cooked separately for us. There is halal meat in a local store, so they buy it for us. Drinking is prohibited in our brigade.”

Emergency has met no other Chechens fighting in Donbass save for himself and his uncle, though he has sure heard of the media hype alleging their presence in strength.

“Well, let them tell those tales if they want to,” he smirks.

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

Bashkir

The local gunner, 31, (call sign “Black”) was born here in Donetsk. His father is a Bashkir, and his mother, a Ukrainian. Black speaks Ukrainian.

He is not willing to marry any time soon. “I might get married after the war is over. A family is a distraction,” he says.

Upon graduating from school, he wanted to study at a military academy but they would only enroll him if he paid a bribe. He is a vocal opponent of corruption, and so he had to serve in the army. Following his two-year duty, he signed a contract and served as a paratrooper. He joined the militia in June.

“I am gunner,” he tells me. “I’ve got many fellow troops fighting on the other side. One calls me up, from time to time, after getting drunk. If they are all like him, we are going to win this war,” he adds.

“I didn’t want a war. I worked as a guard, and was waiting for a miracle, a repeat of the Crimea story, that Donbass would just join Russia. But hostilities flared up in Slavyansk, and the chances for a miracle were dying away. I simply couldn’t go to work. I joined the militia thanks to a friend of mine when it was all still quiet,” says Black.

He took part in the battle for the local airport and the fighting near the town of Shakhtersk.

“We are part of an assault unit. We don’t man any roadblocks, we are idle during this ceasefire,” he explains.

“I am platoon commander and must act as a role model for the boys,” he tells me. Black recalls four of his friends who died. They found the bodies of three of them but the remains of the fourth were never located.

His family is in the dark about his mission. “I didn’t tell anyone, and so my mom, sister and two brothers still think I work for the private security company.”

“I chose my way, and will stick to it,” says the platoon commander. During his time with the militia he was paid only for the previous month.

“I wear what I managed to buy myself. Many of the boys wear the uniform and the gear they capture in battle. The Ukrainians from the Cherkassy battalion left all their gear during the hasty retreat. We’ve made good use of it. It’s all high quality. Both armies use Kalashnikov rifles. We didn’t see any foreign weapons.”

“We don’t have a situation when someone has three rifles and another one doesn’t have any. We make sure that everyone has what they need,” explains the platoon commander.

“The striped vest and blue berets were introduced as the uniform for Soviet airborne troops by Margelov (general of the Soviet army, WWII veteran, holder of the Hero of Soviet Union – RT), and came from the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk. He is a role model for all of us,” he says.

“I do worry about the future of my land. I didn’t dig deep into the ideology. Anyway, monarch or oligarchy is not for us. I like Joseph Stalin, he was strong and kept everything under control,” he represents his politics.

Russian

“Student”, 25, is from Novosibirsk. He married an 18-year-old girl at 15, with a bit of cheating of course, and now has an 8-year-old daughter.

“I’ve had enough during these nine years of marriage. I got divorced. We used to have rows before,” he told me.

Back home, he dodged the military draft and worked as a foreman, renovating apartments.

His father is serving his time in jail, and Student himself uses a lot of prison jargon but no foul language. It’s not allowed in the unit.

His mother works as a doctor in a maternity clinic. He’s got a sister, too.

“They know where I am, and they strongly support me,” he tells me.

“I was tired to watching the news from Ukraine. I couldn’t sit idle any longer, and so in September I came here, and these guys, they are my brothers now,” he explains.

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov

He got into the unit by chance – on his way to Ukraine he made some new friends and they helped him get here.

“The Ukraine’s new government thinks it can do anything it wants. But it’s high time we kicked them out. Donbass is a sovereign state. I came here as a guest, and I am going to help them win so it’s peace and quiet again. I’ll then come back for my vacation once it’s all over,” he muses.

“They gave me a gun, and so I learned to use it,” that’s how he describes his military experience.

Student likes it here in Donbass, although he doesn’t plan to settle down here.

“There’s law and order here, and even the traffic police are on patrol. Everything is under control.”

He, too, views Stalin as a role model. One of his concerns is too many weapons in the hands of the local people. “They should lay down the arms after it’s all over. It’s bad when you have so many guns in the community.”

Ukrainian

23-year-old ‘Cabin’ is from Donetsk. He joined the rebels on May 26, and on the very first day found himself in the airport shooting. They armed all the fighters who were there, and a fight began, recalls Cabin. He served one year in the Ukrainian Armed Forces as a conscript with an airborne unit, and was planning to reenlist.

“But then everything changed, and I left. I didn’t want to stay on that side, with their nationalist views and nationalist symbols, even though at that time I had no idea that there would be ‘this side’,” he said.

“I was participating in all the rallies, and then I joined the Oplot Battalion (commanded by the newly elected Prime Minister Zakharchenko – RT)”

Cabin’s uniform looks spectacular:

“It was gathered piece by piece. I got some items as presents, others, as trophies.”

He has a university degree in electrical engineering. His family consists of his mother and grandfather. The grandfather comes from Western Ukraine; however his family was [Russian] Orthodox rather than Roman Catholic.

“We have many Russian Orthodox believers with us here. Our friend, a monk, was killed here in August. He had fought in Afghanistan during Soviet times. Then he took the vows and went on a self-discovery journey. He got a deadly wound in his abdomen,” explained Cabin.

They also have a deacon nicknamed “Small Guy”: “He secretly brings priests here across the border to do church services for our fighters, and then takes them back,” said the fighter.

Reuters / Marko Djurica

Reuters / Marko Djurica

Fiancée

Cabin has a fiancée in the unit. Her call sigh is “Little Cabin.”

“I met him at one of the rallies. We realized that we shared common views and positions. That’s how we got together,” says the young lady.

She comes from Donbass. She was working as a general practitioner, and was doing her medical residency. She was looking at great career prospects.

“I gave up my job without thinking twice. The unit needs medical workers badly. My mother and brother both supported my decision, even though my brother isn’t fighting. There are those who have to fight, and others, who would be killed immediately,” said the young lady.

“I am an independent person. I’ve left my family long ago, so they had no choice but to support me. They knew that I would do what I thought was right anyway,” she explained.

The fighters protect her, and don’t take her out in the fields with them.

“We have a physician and military nurses with combat experience, so they are the ones participating in fights. I asked to go out as well but was strictly forbidden to,” says Little Cabin.

“We’ll get married after the war. We have four couples in our unit who got married already. One of them had a baby, and two other girls are pregnant. But we want to wait for the time when we’ve won our freedom.”

She explained that at first, an Orthodox Brigade was established.

“But it didn’t really work well. We transferred to the Interbrigade once we heard about it.”

Novice Monk

“Deacon” is 36. He had no family and grew up in an orphanage. He got an economist manager degree at a technical college, and worked at the Donetsk central market.

“I was tired of worldly living. I didn’t want to be surrounded by people driven by money,” recalls Deacon.

His nickname was coined for a reason. He had been a novice at the Svetlodarsk Monastery in Ukraine for four years.

“My Father Superior blessed me for the fight. I know the brothers are praying for me. There were 12 of us novices who came here. I’ve been fighting for five months now. I was wounded as well, got a moderately severe wound,” says the fighter.

“I do the shooting, this is my job,” he explains.

“They shell our cathedrals. They destroyed a convent near the airport. They shot a priest dead in Konstantinovka last May. So the Orthodox believers are here for a reason. When I was recovering from my wound I met a monk who had also been wounded here,” says Deacon.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

 

 

 

 

The bullying of Hungary – the country that dared to disobey the US and EU

Reuters / Karoly Arvai

Reuters / Karoly Arvai

RT QUESTION MORE

25 years ago, Hungary was being toasted in the West for opening its border with Austria to East Germans, in a move which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now the Western elites are not happy with Budapest which they consider far too independent.

The refusal of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party to join the new US and EU Cold War against Russia, which has seen the Hungarian parliament approving a law to build the South Stream gas pipeline without the approval of the European Union, in addition to the populist economic policies Fidesz has adopted against the largely foreign owned banks and energy companies, has been met with an angry response from Washington and Brussels.

Hungarian officials have been banned from entering the US, while the European Commission has demanded that the Hungarians explain their decision to go ahead with South Stream. That’s on top of the European Commission launching legal action against the Hungarian government for its law restricting the rights of foreigners to buy agricultural land.

The bullying of Hungary hasn’t made many headlines because it’s so-called “democrats” from the West who have been doing the bullying.

Viktor Orban is not a communist, he is a nationally-minded conservative who was an anti-communist activist in the late 1980s, but the attacks on him and his government demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what label you go under – if you don’t do exactly what Uncle Sam and the Euro-elite tell you to do – your country will come under great pressure to conform. And all of course in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.”

Fidesz has been upsetting some powerful people in the West ever since returning to power in 2010. The previous “Socialist”-led administration was hugely popular in the West because it did everything Washington and Brussels and the international banking set wanted. It imposed austerity on ordinary people, it privatized large sections of the economy, and it took out an unnecessary IMF loan. Ironically, the conservative-minded Fidesz party has proved to be much better socialists in power than the big-business and banker friendly “Socialists” they replaced.

One of the first things that Fidesz and its coalition allies, the Christian Democratic People’s Party, (KDNP) did was to introduce an $855m bank tax – the highest such tax in Europe – a measure which had the financial elite foaming at the mouth.

Orban clashed with the IMF too, with his government rejecting new loan terms in 2012, and paying off early a loan taken out by the previous government, to reduce interest payments.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Reuters / Bernadett Szabo)

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban (Reuters / Bernadett Szabo)

In 2013, Orban took on the foreign-owned energy giants with his government imposing cuts of over 20% on bills. Neoliberals expressed their outrage at such “interventionist” policies, but under Orban, the economy has improved. Although it’s true that many still look back nostalgically to the days of “goulash communism” in the 1970s and 80s when there were jobs for all and food on the table for everyone. Unemployment fell to 7.4 percent in the third-quarter of this year; it was around 11 percent when Fidesz took power, while real wages rose by 2.9 percent in the year up to July.

The man his enemies called the “Viktator,” has shown that he will pursue whatever economic policies he believes are in his country’s national interest, regardless of the opinions of the western elite who want the Hungarian economy to be geared to their needs.

His refusal to scrap his country’s bank tax is one example; the closer commercial links with Russia are another. Russia is Hungary’s third biggest trading partner and ties between the two countries have strengthened in the last couple of years, to the consternation of western Russophobes. In April, a deal was struck for Moscow to loan Hungary €10 billion to help upgrade its nuclear plant at Paks.

Orban’s policy of improving trade and business links with Russia, while staying a member of the EU and NATO, has however been put under increasing strain by the new hostile policy towards Moscow from Washington and Brussels.

Orban again, has annoyed the West by sticking up for Hungary’s own interests. In May he faced attack when he had the temerity to speak up for the rights of the 200,000 strong Hungarian community living in Ukraine.”Ukraine can neither be stable, nor democratic, if it does not give its minorities, including Hungarians, their due. That is dual citizenship, collective rights and autonomy.” Hungary’s Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Kiev. Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland, the US’s most obedient lapdog in Eastern Europe, called Orban’s comments “unfortunate and disturbing” as if it was anything to do with him or his country.

In August, Orban accurately described the sanctions policy of the West towards Russia as like “shooting oneself in the foot.”“The EU should not only compensate producers somehow, be they Polish, Slovak, Hungarian or Greek, who now have to suffer losses, but the entire sanctions policy should be reconsidered,” Orban said.

In October, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also questioned the sanctions on Russia, revealing that his country is losing 50 million forints a day due to the policy.

Hungary has made its position clear, but for daring to question EU and US policy, and for its rapprochement with Moscow, the country has been punished.

It’s democratically elected civilian government which enjoys high levels of public support, has ludicrously – and obscenely – been likened to military governments which have massacred their opponents. “From Hungary to Egypt, endless regulations and overt intimidation increasingly target civil society,” declared US President Barack Obama in September.

Last month there was another salvo fired at Hungary – it was announced that the US had banned six unnamed Hungarian government officials from entering America, citing concerns over corruption- without the US providing any proof of the corruption.

RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov

RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov

At a certain point, the situation, if it continues this way, will deteriorate to the extent where it is impossible to work together as an ally,” warned the Charge D’Affaires of the US Embassy in Budapest, Andre Goodfriend. The decision and the failure to provide any evidence, understandably caused outrage in Hungary. “The government of Hungary is somewhat baffled at the events that have unfolded because this is not the way friends deal with issues,” said Janos Lazar, Orban‘s chief of staff.

The timing of the ban has to be noted, coming after the Hungarian government had criticized the sanctions on Russia and just before the national Parliament was due to vote on the South Stream pipeline. The pipeline, which would allow gas to be transported from Russia via the Black Sea and the Balkans to south and central Europe without passing through Ukraine, is a project which Russophobes in the West want cancelled.

“I am inclined to think that it is a punishment for the fact that we talk to Russia,” said Gabor Stier, the head foreign policy editor of the leading Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.

“America thinks that we are corrupt, but we are a sovereign state, and it is our business. Many people in the United States do not like that Viktor Orban is very independent…..Corruption is just an excuse.”

It’s hard to disagree with Stier’s conclusions. Of course, there is corruption in Hungary, as there is in every country, but it pales in comparison with some countries who are faithful US allies and who Washington never criticizes. The 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International, reveals that Latvia, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina are all below Hungary, as indeed is Italy. Yet it’s Hungarian officials that the US is banning.

True to form, the attacks on Orban and his government in the Western media have chimed with the political attacks. ‘Is Hungary, the EU’s only dictatorship?’ asked Bloomberg View in April. The BBC ran a hostile piece on Orban and Fidesz in October entitled Cracks Emerge in leading party, and which referred to “government corruption” and “the playboy lifestyle of numerous party officials.”

The piece looked forward to the end of Fidesz rule.

While earlier this week, the New York Times published an OpEd by Kati Marton, whose late husband Richard Holbrooke, was a leading US diplomat, entitled Hungary’s Authoritarian Descent. You’d never guess that the Hungarian government wasn’t the flavor of the month in the West would you?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at their meeting in Budapest (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at their meeting in Budapest (RIA Novosti / Eduard Pesov)

The question which has to be asked is: will Hungary be the next country to be the target of a US/EU sponsored regime change?

We all know what happened to the last Viktor who refused to sever links with Russia. Will Orban suffer the same fate as Ukraine’s Yanukovich? There are good reasons for believing that he won’t.

Fidesz did make a mistake by announcing the introduction of a new internet tax last month, which brought thousands onto the streets to protest but they have since dropped the plans and the problem for the US and EU is that Orban and his government remain too popular. In October’s local elections Fidesz won 19 of Hungary’s 21 larger towns and cities, including the capital city Budapest, not bad for a party that‘s been in power since May 2010.

Orban’s brand of economic populism, combined with moderate nationalism, goes down well in a country where people remember just how awful things were when the neoliberal “Socialists” were in power. His style of leadership may be authoritarian, but Hungarians prefer having a leader who has cut fuel bills and reduced unemployment to one who mouths platitudes about “liberal democracy” but who imposed harsh austerity measures and leaves them unable to afford the daily essentials.

Moreover Hungary, is already a member of the EU and NATO unlike Ukraine under Yanukovich and isn’t about to leave either soon. On a recent visit to America Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told the US TODAY newspaper “US is our friend, US is our closest ally.” The US clearly wants more from Hungary than just words, but while both Washington and Brussels would like to see a more obedient government in Budapest, the “liberal” and faux-left parties they support simply don’t have enough popular support for the reasons outlined above. And things would be even worse for the West if the radical nationalist party Jobbik, the third largest party in Parliament, and which made gains in October’s local elections, came to power- or if there was a genuine socialist/communist revival in the country. The fact is that Orban is in a very strong position and he knows it. That’s why he feels able to face down the threats from abroad and maintain a level of independence even though total independence is impossible within the EU and NATO.

We can expect the attacks on Orban and his government to intensify but the more the West attacks, the more popular Orban, who is able to present himself as the defender of Hungary’s national interests, becomes.

Hungary gave the West everything it wanted in 1989, and, as I pointed out here, its “reform” communist leadership was richly rewarded. But in 2014 it’s a very different story. In the interests of democracy and small countries standing up to bullying by powerful elites, long may Hungary’s spirited defiance continue.

Hajra, magyarok! Hajra Magyarorszag! [ Hurrah Hungarians! Hurrah Hungarians! ]

90yo US WWII vet vows to defy arrest for feeding homeless

Arnold Abbot being arrested on November 2. Video still. Courtesy Browards Palm Beach New Times

Arnold Abbot being arrested on November 2. Video still. Courtesy Browards Palm Beach New Times

A 90-year-old war veteran says he will continue breaking the law by feeding homeless in public places in the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was arrested earlier for defying a city ordinance that restricts such charity to protect local businesses.

Arnold Abbot has been feeding homeless people in the streets of Fort Lauderdale for some 23 years, and says he will not stop, despite the city council making it a citable offence, carrying a punishment of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

“I am not afraid at all. I was a combat infantryman for 2 1/2 years. I’ve spent 50 years fighting for civil rights for the minorities in this country. I don’t have the slightest fear of being arrested,” he told RT. “The only thing I am concerned about is that there would be nobody to feed the homeless outdoors, which is what I do – and what I intend to do as long as there is breath in my body.”

Arnold Abbot being arrested on November 2. Video still. Courtesy Browards Palm Beach New Times

Arnold Abbot being arrested on November 2. Video still. Courtesy Browards Palm Beach New Times

Abbot and two fellow anti-poverty activists, church ministers Dwayne Black and Mark Sims, were arrested over the weekend, after the controversial no-feeding law came into force last week.

They were not taken into custody, however, and the case is yet to be heard by a judge, but on Wednesday they repeated the same “offense” of feeding homeless publicly. This time the act of civil disobedience was not interrupted by law enforcement, possibly because the conflict drew nationwide attention.

Abbot is one of many activists resisting what appears as a spreading trend in US cities to crackdown on homeless people. He says continuing his work is a matter of being true to his faith.

“I believe that I am my brother’s keeper. The name of our organization is ‘Love Thy Neighbor,’ and that’s what we do. We try to spread love, to help our fellow men,” he told RT.

“We have 10,000 homeless in Broward County, which is the county of which Fort Lauderdale is the principal city. Most of them are in Fort Lauderdale, and we want to take care of all of our people. We are all God’s children.”

But Mayor Jack Seiler says he has to take care of Fort Lauderdale business owners and residents. A major tourist destination, the city’s economy depends on being attractive, and the city authorities say having homeless people visible on the streets doesn’t help that.

“The parks have just been overrun and were inaccessible to locals and businesses,” Seiler told RT.

Video of Jeff Weinberger speaking about city policies discriminating against the homeless with South Florida Food Not Bombs

Breaking News: Tense stand-off between Million Mask March protesters and police in London

RT UK – November 05, 2014

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Barricades have been erected in London’s Parliament Square and hundreds of police officers are on standby after protesters announced intentions to “blockade” the center of the capital.

In anticipation of the Million Mask March on November 5, officers from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and the City of London Police Force will be on duty, with many others on standby.

In their invitation to the Million Mask March, Anonymous activists announced they intend to to cause traffic chaos in the capital:

“What I’d like to see is a MASSIVE Anonymous blockade of London City,” the demo’s website said. “Complete physical GRIDLOCK. Only thing that gets through are Fire & Rescue and ambulances. NOTHING ELSE MOVES.”

LIVE – Million Mask March floods London streets

 

The demonstration has been called by the hacktivist group Anonymous, whose manifesto states they protest against austerity, mass surveillance and human rights abuses.

The London march is part of a day of global demonstrations, which include rallies across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Barricades have been erected in London’s Parliament Square and hundreds of police officers are on standby after protesters announced intentions to “blockade” the center of the capital.

In anticipation of the Million Mask March on November 5, officers from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and the City of London Police Force will be on duty, with many others on standby.

In their invitation to the Million Mask March, Anonymous activists announced they intend to to cause traffic chaos in the capital:

“What I’d like to see is a MASSIVE Anonymous blockade of London City,” the demo’s website said. “Complete physical GRIDLOCK. Only thing that gets through are Fire & Rescue and ambulances. NOTHING ELSE MOVES.”

 The demonstration has been called by the hacktivist group Anonymous, whose manifesto states they protest against austerity, mass surveillance and human rights abuses.

The London march is part of a day of global demonstrations, which include rallies across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

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Last year’s London march saw more than 2,500 protesters take to the streets, in a rally which saw fireworks thrown at Buckingham Palace and a total of 15 arrests.

The heightened security measures come as the Metropolitan Police attempted to contact Anonymous, but no one came forward with any details.

“We are keen to talk with them to ensure they are able to protest; it is important that they talk to us so that we can work together to achieve a safe and successful event,” said Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills.

Rather than communicate directly with local authorities, Anonymous sent a message to the government, and to global world leaders: “To oppressive governments, we say this: we do not expect our campaign to be completed in a short time frame. However, you will not prevail against the angry masses of the body politic.”

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The group further addresses the British government, saying they have “made an enemy of Anonymous,” and that they have “angered them considerably.”

Speaking to RT, one source from the Anonymous movement said, “It’s a night of grievance on a night that’s historically about parliament and how it’s not always working in the people’s interests.”

“We burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a fire each year as a warning against standing against parliament so we just felt it would be symbolic,” the source said.

The Million Mask March was due to begin at 1800 GMT from Trafalgar Square.