US leads ‘largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine’ – Follows Pentagon’s Advice to Conquer the World?

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Ukrainian soldiers and servicemen of the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team take part in a joint military exercise called “Fearless Guardian 2015” at the military training area in Yavoriv, outside Lviv, Ukraine, May 12, 2015.Oleksandr Klymenko/Reuters

Troops from the US, UK, Germany and 14 other countries are set to conduct what officials are calling the “largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine” in the west of the country over the coming weeks.

The exercises will be conducted in Lviv region, in western Ukraine, far from the conflict zone in the east, with as many as 1,800 servicemen from 18 countries taking part from today until the end of the month.

The Saber Guardian and Rapid Trident exercises are conducted annually between the US army in Europe and European states which agree to participate. Last year they included 1,300 defence staff from 15 militaries, including Ukraine. However last year, only Rapid Trident took place on Ukrainian soil, with Saber Guardian being organised in Bulgaria.

Beside the US military and their Ukrainian hosts, personnel from other Nato allied nations joining the exercise include the UK, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while non-members Serbia, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan are also set to participate.

“Multinational exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1995, however it is safe to say that this is the largest multinational exercise held in Ukraine to date,” Don Wrenn public affairs public affairs specialist for US Army Europe, who is at the site of the exercises says.

Despite the heightening tension in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels have intensified fire towards Kiev-held positions since May, Wrenn says the exercise has no relation to the specific conflict.

“It is not anything to do with the political situation,” Wrenn says “This exercise was planned ahead of time. Countries were notified that it would occur and we can’t directly connect with the situation going on. Rapid Trident has been going for years in Ukraine.”

“Part of why this is larger this year is that there are two exercises going ahead at the same time in the same place,” Wrenn explains. The Saber Guardian exercise rotates between host nations, it just so happens that this year it was Ukraine’s turn to host it, coinciding with Rapid Trident

“The two were held together and integrated with each other,” Wrenn says. Training will begin tomorrow, after the end of today’s opening ceremony.

“We will be looking at practicing skills such as casualty evacuation and first aid, reacting to being ambushed in both an offensive posture or in defensive mode, we are conducting training in how to identify and react to improvised explosives and devices and there will be some simulated outpost operations.”

“These are all skills that are to be used either in combat or peacekeeping. Some Ukrainian armored vehicles will be included but most of the vehicles being used are just US humvees and wheeled vehicles,” he adds. Contrary to some media reports, no air operations are scheduled as part of the exercise.

Although a period of relative calm followed in the east after a ceasefire agreement was signed by the rebel leaders, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in February, clashes increase along the contact lines in May and by June the rebels launched the largest offensive since the battle for the strategic town of Debaltseve on the eve of the ceasefire deal.

Rebel leader Alexander Zaharchenko once again publically set target towns which the rebels plan to “take” in May and Reuters, Nato and the Ukrainian government have all reported an increasing military build up on the Russian side of the border.

Since the start of the conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the east, Ukraine has led a series of reforms to its military in a bid to strengthen its efficiency in the short and long term. Eastern regions have obtained physical reinforcement bases and Ukraine has also pursued stronger ties with western neighbours such as the joint battalion it formed last year with Poland and Lithuania,

President Petro Poroshenko pledged yesterday to increase Ukraine’s security spending power, adding a further 5 billion hryvna (over €200m) to the defence budget, according to a statement released on his official website. Independent Russian news site Slon reported that the last Ukrainian budget allotted 90 billion hryvna to defence spending, which, together with Poroshenko’s latest pledge equals around €4bn.

However,  Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s claim that the Ukraine will take over Donbass by the end of the year seems to be one more of his tricks. 

According to Forbes, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has offered Russian counterpart Vldimir Putin to ”include Donbass” in the territory of the federation. The announcement was released to Forbes magazine through an anonymous source.

It was stated that the proposal had been extended during the Normandy Four talks held in Minsk on February 11 and 12.

”Poroshenko directly told me, ”Take Donbass”, and I responded, ”Have you gone mad ? I don’t need Donbass. If you don’t need it, announce its independence”, was the statement Vladimir Putin made at his meeting with Russian industrialists and businessmen on March 19, as quoted by Forbes.

In the words of the Russian President, Poroshenko then stated that Ukrainian authorities are not able to take the step, ” Then, let Ukrainian authorities pay the pensions and social care to the population of Donbass and let them restore the banking system,” Putin allegedly insisted.

The ceasefire deal included 14 points connected to the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners, the providing of humanitarian aid for the severely affected regions of Ukraine, as well as establishing of special statute for the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Republics.

According to the source released information to Forbes, Putin himself is skeptical regarding the peace deal and believes that Ukrainian authorities are attempting to win the fight with rebel forces and to destroy Donbass in economic terms.

Allegedly, Putin said that EU leaders are well aware of the Ukrainian intentions, but the strengthening of the conflict is said to be in favor of US foreign polices. He also informed business leaders that the EU sanctions against Russia are unlikely to be removed in the upcoming years.

On the other hand, Poroshenko’s relations with Poland have deteriorated.

A scheduled meeting of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with the winner of the Polish presidential elections Andrzej Duda in Warsaw will not now take place, Polish news agency PAP reported on Wednesday, with reference to its own sources close to the newly-elected head of state.

At home, Poroshenko is facing serious problems with the nationalist “Right Sector” paramilitary group.  The popular assembly is dubbed ‘Away With Traitors in Power!’

The popular assembly dubbed “Away With Traitors in Power!”organized by Ukraine’s far-right paramilitary group, Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) has started on Independence Square (Maidan).

Here’s the scene on ‘s Maidan right now. 1000+ now gathered for far-right nationalist rally:

WATCH LIVE STREAMING VIDEO  HERE

The rally follows a recent shootout involving members of ‘Right Sector’, security teams close to Ukrainian MP Mykhailo Lanyo and local police officers which took place in the town of Mukacheve in Ukraine’s western Zakarpattia region on July 11. Four people were killed and up to 14 were wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

‘Right Sector’ is one of a number of militarised groups that emerged during violent protests that toppled former Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych a year ago.

The militias went on to fight alongside Ukrainian troops in the east against Russian-backed militants, but concerns have risen over whether they could pose a challenge to President Poroshenko and the government or threaten public security.

‘Right Sector’ and police have accused each other of initiating the violence in Mukacheve, but on Tuesday a spokesman for the group said two of its members had surrendered to the SBU security service. 

 

Is Washington Planning “Operation Barbarossa 2.0″? War against Russia?

 

 
 
NATO-Russia-400x269On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union – perhaps the largest ever invasion force by one country against another involving up to four million combat and support troops.

His ambition to conquer the Soviet Union, acquire Lebensraum, its resources and enslave its people failed. So did Napoleon 130 years earlier against Tsarist Russia.

Does Washington plan repeating their mistakes?

Anti-Russian hostility and saber rattling should scare everyone. US-NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorstep are provocative.

They repeat with disturbing regularity. BALTOPS is the latest.

On June 5, NATO said “(s)cores of ships and aircraft from 17 countries are taking part in Baltic Sea naval drills as part of exercise BALTOPS which started on Friday, 5 June 2015 and runs until 20 June.”

“Allied participation demonstrates NATO’s resolve to defend the Baltic region, and will hone the ability of Allies and partners to work together.”

“Fourteen NATO Allies are joined this year by NATO partners Finland, Georgia and Sweden. Overall, 5,600 troops will be involved.”

NATO Commander of Naval Striking and Support Forces  Admiral James Foggo said “(t)his exercise represents an important opportunity for our forces, as allies and partners, to enhance our ability to work together and strengthen capabilities required to maintain regional security.”

Washington orchestrates NATO war games – anti-Russian/Chinese/Iranian exercises at a time no threat from these country exists, when America, its rogue NATO allies and Israel alone threaten world peace.

A previous article asked if US-dominated NATO planned war on Russia – the madness of potential nuclear confrontation if launched.

Mounting evidence should give everyone pause for concern. Provocative US-dominated military exercises near Russia’s borders suggest preparation for war.

So does irresponsible Russia bashing – a regular drumbeat of Big Lies. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is paid to lie.

“Russia bears direct responsibility for what’s happening in Ukraine,” she says – despite no evidence suggesting it, plenty pointing fingers at Washington and its rogue allies.

Harf repeatedly blames “Russian separatists” for daily Kiev war crimes – naked aggression waged with full US support.

Russia is the continent’s preeminent peacemaker. America and its Kiev proxy want war.

On May 28, NATO deputy secretary general (its de facto boss) former US Defense Department official Alexander Vershbow repeated the same Big Lies about Russia he’s blustered numerous times before, including claiming:

– “Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea:”

– Russia undermines regional peace:

– Russia “br(ought) war to Eastern Ukraine:”

– Russia supports Donbass militia fighters “with weapons – including sophisticated heavy weapons – with soldiers and with training:”

– “Russian aggression” destabilizes Ukraine: FALSE! The whole world knows no Russian aggression exists.

– Russia “use(s) force – or the threat of force – to achieve its strategic objectives:”

These allegations are false.

Vershbow said “(w)e are putting NATO into a position of strength…to protect our allies (and) engag(e) with Russia” – code language for confrontation stopping short of declaring war.

Ahead of his visit to Italy, Vladimir Putin addressed irresponsible Western “Russian aggression” accusations saying:

“I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.”

“I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia. They just want to play the role of front-line countries that should receive some supplementary military, economic, financial or some other aid.”

Russia’s military policy isn’t “global, offensive or aggressive,” he stressed. (V)irtually no bases abroad” are maintained.

Moscow wants demilitarization while Washington’s agenda is polar opposite.

“I invite you to publish a world map…and mark all the US military bases on it,” he said. “You will see the difference between Russia and America.”

Military spending of NATO countries is tenfold Russia’s budget. Washington is installing so-called “anti-missile systems, bases and radars in European territory (and at) sea” – ignoring Russia’s warning about undermining international security.

America under George Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty, not Russia. It limited anti-ballistic missile arsenals. Putin called it “the cornerstone of the entire international security system.”

“Everything we do is just a response to the threats emerging against us,” he explained.

“Besides, what we do is limited in scope and scale, but is, however, sufficient to ensure Russia’s security.”

In late May, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the threat of Washington installing so-called missile defense systems in Ukraine, saying:

“(W)e can only perceive it negatively…because it will be a threat to the Russian Federation. In case there are missile defense systems stationed in Ukraine, Russia will have to take retaliatory measures to ensure its own safety.”

Ukraine remains a dangerous global flashpoint. At an extraordinary FridaySecurity Council meeting, Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin explained repeated Kiev violations of Minsk ceasefire terms.

“OSCE monitors should not simply note ceasefire violations, but clearly write down the purpose of these attacks, and who suffers from them –  civilians or military units carrying out artillery fire against settlements,” he said.

Ahead of the June 7 and 8 G-7 summit in Germany, Obama spoke with Poroshenko. He reaffirmed strong US support “for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

He blamed Russia and Donbass freedom fighters for Kiev high crimes. So did US UN envoy Samantha Power atFriday’s Security Council session – bashing Russia irresponsibly like she always does, systematically ignoring hard truths.

Washington wants Putin ousted. They want regime change in Russia. They want pro-Western stooge governance replacing its sovereign independence.

They risk heading things recklessly toward WW III.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site atsjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts  will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Crimes of Ukrainian Aidar battalion confirmed in Amnesty Int’l report – Russia

Ukraine battalion Aidar crimes

Ukraine battalion Aidar crimes

 

By RT

An Amnesty International report has confirmed that war crimes including abductions, executions and extortion were committed by the Ukrainian Aidar battalion in Lugansk region, eastern Ukraine, an official from Russia’s Foreign Ministry says.

“The report confirms large-scale crimes, including war [crimes] made routinely and under the aegis of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, by the leaders and members of the Aidar battalion,” said Konstantin Dolgov, the Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights.

“Amnesty International points only to some of these [crimes] – abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, including demanding ransom for abducted Ukrainians, and simple robbery from the civilian population,” Dolgov said.

He added that Russian authorities have repeatedly called on international organizations , including Amnesty International, to pay more attention to large-scale human rights violations during Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.

“We hope that the report on Aidar’s [battalion] crimes will attract more attempts in these sphere because the atrocities of Aidar members is only a part of sinister crimes committed by the punishers,” he said, “All these crimes, including the [May 2] bloodshed in Odessa should be objectively investigated under effective international control and the culprits should be brought to justice.”

Fighters of the Donbass battalion by the building of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Kotenko)

Fighters of the Donbass battalion by the building of the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. (RIA Novosti/Evgeny Kotenko)

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, has called for urgent investigation of the shelling in eastern Ukraine.

“[We] call all sides of the conflict to restrain their forces from any war crimes, any violations of the international humanitarian law and do everything in their power to protect civilians and their lives,” Shetty said.

All allegations of abuses should be investigated, he said, adding: “I call upon the Ukrainian government to do everything in their power to provide the humanitarian assistance which internally displaced people urgently require, as winter is approaching,”

Abductions, extortion, executions: Amnesty slams actions of Aidar Batallion

In its report, released Sept. 8 and titled, “Ukraine: abuses and war crimes by the Aidar volunteer battalion in the north Lugansk region,”

Amnesty International said: “Members of the Aidar territorial defense battalion, operating in the north Luhansk [Lugansk] region, have been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions.”

Бойцы батальона “Азов” приняли присягу в Киеве перед отправкой на Донбасс

Azov battalion soldiers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine in Kiev’s Sophia Square before being sent to the Donbass region. (RIA Novosti/Alexandr Maksimenko)

According to Amnesty, “members of the Aidar battalion act with virtually no oversight or control, and local police are either unwilling or unable to address the abuses.”

Amnesty Intl: Both sides of Ukrainian conflict committed war crimes

“Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law.”

“Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law.”

Fire brigade members extinguishing fire in a building hit by a shell during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Fire brigade members extinguishing fire in a building hit by a shell during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Amnesty called upon the Kiev authorities ”to bring Aidar and other volunteer battalions under effective lines of command and control, promptly investigate all allegations of abuses, and hold those responsible to account.”

“The [Aidar] fighters abducted local men, often businessmen or farmers, whom they accused of collaborating with the separatists and held in makeshift detention facilities,” says the report. “… The victims were subjected to beatings at the moment of capture and/or during interrogations, and either had to pay ransom for their release, or had possessions, including money, cars, telephones, and other valuables seized by the battalion members.”

A man going down to the basement of a building damaged during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

A man going down to the basement of a building damaged during an artillery attack by the Ukrainian Security Forces in Lugansk. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Swastikas, SS badges and other Nazi regalia noticed among Ukrainian troops

The troops from Ukrainian Azov and Donbass battalions were reportedly noticed wearing Nazi symbols – swastikas and SS badges.

According to a video on German TV station ZDF, Ukrainian soldiers were shown wearing swastikas and the “SS runes” of Adolph Hitler’s elite corps. The footage was shot by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

“We were filming a report about Ukraine’s Azov battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,” said Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for TV2, a private television station, NBC News reported.

Bogen then asked a spokesperson if the battalion had “fascist tendencies. “

“The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,” Bogen said.

Wolfsangel in E. Ukraine: Foreign Policy talks to deputy leader of ‘pro-govt’ Azov Battalion

Ukrainian volunteer pro-government militias were organized in Kiev in 2014 with the help of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

One such group, the Azov battalion, was formed in May 2014 in Mariupol, based on special patrol units of the Interior Ministry. Participants of the Azov battalion are also known on the Internet as “black men” due to their uniforms.

 

 

The Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) Nazi symbol can be commonly seen on uniforms worn by men from the Azov battalion. It was originally used by the SS and the Hitler Youth, as well as various modern-day neo-Nazi groups.

Another militia group under Kiev’s control, the Donbass battalion, was created in Odessa in April to fight against the supporters of the People’s Republic of Donetsk. In May the Ukrainian news portal LB.ua published a video showing a member of Donbass battalion killed in the fighting who has a Nazi swastika on his chest.

Far-right Right Sector party which first came to international spotlight at the end of November 2013, is considered very active in the violence which triggered the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich. Right Sector fighters used clubs, petrol bombs, and firearms against Ukrainian police while wearing Nazi insignia.

 

 

During the EuroMaidan protests, the far-right organization Right Sector was formed on the basis of the Donbass battalion and other far-right groups. Russia put the party’s leader, Dmitry Yarosh, on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia. Yarosh has also threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian soil.

In the meantime, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has launched an investigation over the crimes of volunteer battalions in eastern Ukraine.

“We have the facts and criminal proceedings where the representatives of volunteer battalions committed crimes against the local population,” the country’s Prosecutor General, Vitaly Yarema, told RIA Novosti.

 

 

Memorandum to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, by Veterans of U.S. Intelligence

Don't mess up with him. His brain works 10x  better than yours.

Don’t mess up with him. His brain works 10x better than ours.

Russia’s “Invasion” of Ukraine. Memorandum to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, by Veterans of U.S. Intelligence

 

 

nato-us

Alarmed at the anti-Russian hysteria sweeping Official Washington – and the specter of a new Cold War – U.S. intelligence veterans took the unusual step of sending this Aug. 30 memo to German Chancellor Merkel challenging the reliability of Ukrainian and U.S. media claims about a Russian “invasion.”

MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO

We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on Sept. 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo credit: א (Aleph))

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo credit: א (Aleph))

We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

President Barack Obama tried on Aug. 29 to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as “a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … it’s not really a shift.”

Obama, however, has only tenuous control over the policymakers in his administration – who, sadly, lack much sense of history, know little of war, and substitute anti-Russian invective for a policy. One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on “intelligence” that was dubious, at best.

Largely because of the growing prominence of, and apparent reliance on, intelligence we believe to be spurious, we think the possibility of hostilities escalating beyond the borders of Ukraine has increased significantly over the past several days.  More important, we believe that this likelihood can be avoided, depending on the degree of judicious skepticism you and other European leaders bring to the NATO summit next week.

Experience With Untruth

Hopefully, your advisers have reminded you of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s checkered record for credibility. It appears to us that Rasmussen’s speeches continue to be drafted by Washington. This was abundantly clear on the day before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq when, as Danish Prime Minister, he told his Parliament: “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This is not something we just believe. We know.”

Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence.  Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on Aug. 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine. Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003, that, likewise, proved nothing.

That same day, we warned President Bush that our former colleague analysts were “increasingly distressed at the politicization of intelligence” and told him flatly, “Powell’s presentation does not come close” to justifying war. We urged Mr. Bush to “widen the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

Consider Iraq today. Worse than catastrophic.

Although President Vladimir Putin has until now showed considerable reserve on the conflict in the Ukraine, it behooves us to remember that Russia, too, can “shock and awe.” In our view, if there is the slightest chance of that kind of thing eventually happening to Europe because of Ukraine, sober-minded leaders need to think this through very carefully.

If the photos that NATO and the U.S. have released represent the best available “proof” of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the NATO summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative. Caveat emptor is an expression with which you are no doubt familiar. Suffice it to add that one should be very cautious regarding what Mr. Rasmussen, or even Secretary of State John Kerry, are peddling.

We trust that your advisers have kept you informed regarding the crisis in Ukraine from the beginning of 2014, and how the possibility that Ukraine would become a member of NATO is anathema to the Kremlin. According to a Feb. 1, 2008 cable (published by WikiLeaks) from the U.S. embassy in Moscow to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Ambassador William Burns was called in by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who explained Russia’s strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine.

Lavrov warned pointedly of “fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.” Burns gave his cable the unusual title, “NYET MEANS NYET: RUSSIA’S NATO ENLARGEMENT REDLINES,” and sent it off to Washington with IMMEDIATE precedence. Two months later, at their summit in Bucharest NATO leaders issued a formal declaration that “Georgia and Ukraine will be in NATO.”

On Aug. 29, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk used his Facebook page to claim that, with the approval of Parliament that he has requested, the path to NATO membership is open. Yatsenyuk, of course, was Washington’s favorite pick to become prime minister after the Feb. 22 coup d’etat in Kiev.

“Yats is the guy,” said Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland a few weeks before the coup, in an intercepted telephone conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. You may recall that this is the same conversation in which Nuland said, “Fuck the EU.”

Timing of the Russian “Invasion”

The conventional wisdom promoted by Kiev just a few weeks ago was that Ukrainian forces had the upper hand in fighting the anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine, in what was largely portrayed as a mop-up operation. But that picture of the offensive originated almost solely from official government sources in Kiev. There were very few reports coming from the ground in southeastern Ukraine. There was one, however, quoting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, that raised doubt about the reliability of the government’s portrayal.

According to the “press service of the President of Ukraine” on Aug. 18, Poroshenko called for a “regrouping of Ukrainian military units involved in the operation of power in the East of the country. … Today we need to do the rearrangement of forces that will defend our territory and continued army offensives,” said Poroshenko, adding, “we need to consider a new military operation in the new circumstances.”

If the “new circumstances” meant successful advances by Ukrainian government forces, why would it be necessary to “regroup,” to “rearrange” the forces? At about this time, sources on the ground began to report a string of successful attacks by the anti-coup federalists against government forces.  According to these sources, it was the government army that was starting to take heavy casualties and lose ground, largely because of ineptitude and poor leadership.

Ten days later, as they became encircled and/or retreated, a ready-made excuse for this was to be found in the “Russian invasion.” That is precisely when the fuzzy photos were released by NATO and reporters like the New York Times’ Michael Gordon were set loose to spread the word that “the Russians are coming.” (Michael Gordon was one of the most egregious propagandists promoting the war on Iraq.)

No Invasion – But Plenty Other Russian Support

The anti-coup federalists in southeastern Ukraine enjoy considerable local support, partly as a result of government artillery strikes on major population centers. And we believe that Russian support probably has been pouring across the border and includes, significantly, excellent battlefield intelligence. But it is far from clear that this support includes tanks and artillery at this point – mostly because the federalists have been better led and surprisingly successful in pinning down government forces.

At the same time, we have little doubt that, if and when the federalists need them, the Russian tanks will come.

This is precisely why the situation demands a concerted effort for a ceasefire, which you know Kiev has so far been delaying. What is to be done at this point? In our view, Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk need to be told flat-out that membership in NATO is not in the cards – and that NATO has no intention of waging a proxy war with Russia – and especially not in support of the rag-tag army of Ukraine. Other members of NATO need to be told the same thing.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (Ret.)

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)