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When, If Ever, Will Serbia Finally Make a Geopolitical Pivot to Russia?

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sputniknews.com

When, If Ever, Will Serbia Finally Make a Geopolitical Pivot to Russia?

Sputnik

Last week, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic visited St. Petersburg to open a an honorary consulate in the Russian city. During his trip, the president gave a candid interview to Sputnik, revealing that Belgrade is frustrated over Brussels officials’ lack of clarity about what awaits Serbia "at the end of our road to [join] the EU."

Specifically, the president noted that the EU hasn’t exactly been accommodating in accepting Serbia’s sensitivity over the Kosovo issue, and in fact has repeatedly taken the side of the breakaway republic. Belgrade continues to see Kosovo as an integral part of its territory.

© AFP 2016/ ALEXA STANKOVIC

Also last week, the Russian and Serbian armies once again showed off their penchant for cooperation, with Russian pilots heading to Serbia for the second year in a row for tactical helicopter drills, dubbed

BARS-2016

. Personnel from the two countries practiced day and nighttime flight, air interception, close air combat, complex aerobatics and search and rescue operations. This was the second joint Russian-Serbian mission in the last two months. Last month, Russian, Serbian and Belarusian troops participated in

Slavic Brotherhood-2016

, an exercise involving joint training of airborne forces.

But Belgrade isn’t averse to the Serbian army training with the US and NATO, either, participating in the US Army-organized exercise Combined Resolve VII in Germany in August.

In recent years, Serbian officials’ policy of maneuvering between friendly overtures toward Russia and cooperation with and efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures has frustrated Russian analysts, who have insisted that Belgrade make up its mind about the course it wants to take. Independent geopolitics analyst Nikita Komarov is not one of them. In a recent analysis for news and analysis website PolitRussia, Komarov explained that if Moscow hopes for Serbia to make such a significant choice, and in Russia’s favor, it will first have to step up its own efforts on the diplomatic front.

© AFP 2016/ SAVO PRELEVIC

"Serbia is currently the last state in the Balkans that has not lost its neutrality," the analyst explained. "All other pieces of the former Yugoslavia, as well as neighboring countries, have been integrated in one way or another into Euro-Atlantic structures, which totally control social and political processes in these countries."

But Serbia "could also suddenly become part of NATO and the EU," the analyst added. "Russian influence in the Balkans has proven insufficient to prevent Euro-Atlantic expansion in the region. However, Serbs’ ethno-cultural code, and the heavy imprint of the NATO-led war at the end of the 20th century, continue to be a stumbling block in the path of Western globalists."

"Unfortunately, time is not on the side of the Serbian people, nor in the interest of Russia. US soft power is gradually drawing Serbia into the West. A standard ‘processing of the brains of the population’, in the best traditions of color revolutions, is taking place. Serbian television and the print media constantly talk about the benefits of European integration, and the Serbia’ Cyrillic script is slowly but surely shifting to the Latin alphabet."

Meanwhile, Komarov noted that for months now, Russia’s own limited efforts, specifically via the Russian-Serbian humanitarian center in Nis, have been subjected to a series of hysterical allegations from Western media and their Serbian hangers-on. The Nis center, which employs only a handful of people –four Russians and five Serbians, has been blasted as a ‘secret base for Russian military intelligence’, meant to spy on NATO forces stationed in the region; this despite the fact that the center’s real mission is to help the Balkan nation deal with emergencies, including floods and fires.

In any case, the journalist suggested that if they chose to do so, Moscow and Belgrade would have every right to establish "even full-fledged military bases on Serbian territory," and it wouldn’t be the concern of any outside power.

© AFP 2016/ ARMEND NIMANI

Unfortunately, "this policy of double standards in the media cannot help but to affect the mood of the population. 48% of the country is in favor of European integration, with only 28% opposed. However, the truth is, Serbs don’t really have much of a choice. At the moment, Russia cannot really offer Belgrade an alternative. Therefore, it’s hardly worth blaming the South Slavic nation of any sort of ‘treachery’."

Admittedly, Komarov noted that opposition to NATO remains stronger – and not just among the older population. "Today’s 18-29 year-olds grew up in the period of NATO’s bombardment of Belgrade, and even massed propaganda is unlikely to convince them of the alliance’s ‘friendly intentions’."

"But here too it’s necessary to remember Serbia’s betrayal by Boris Yeltsin and his entourage. In 1999, Yugoslavia was not accepted into the Russian-Belarusian union state, Yeltsin refused to arm Milosevic with S-300s, and Russian airborne forces were subsequently withdrawn from the Pristina airfield."

Fortunately, Komarov pointed out, most Serbs seem to be aware that Yeltsin’s betrayal was not the Russian people’s choice. Nevertheless, the situation is not heading in a positive direction as far as Russian-Serbian relations are concerned. "The Serbian government is essentially moderately pro-Western. Combining the ideology of EU integration and ‘defense of Serbian national interests’, the Serbian Progressive Party successfully received a majority in parliamentary elections in April. Both President Nikolic and Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic are members of this party."

The journalist recalled that both leaders have repeatedly vacillated, promoting military cooperation with both Russia and NATO while insisting that Serbia will not join the Western alliance. Meanwhile, both men have pushed for integration into the EU, but not before the Kosovo issue is resolved.

© AP Photo/ Dimitri Messinis

At the same time, "if Serbia’s pro-Russian forces, in the face of Vojislav Seselj and the Serbian Radical Party, or the Dveri-Democratic Party, we to come to power, the republic would immediately face intense pressure from all sides." Komarov suggested that for the moment, the balance of forces is such that Russia probably wouldn’t have sufficient resources to protect the country, even if Belgrade pushed hard for an alliance.

"On the whole, the relationship between official Belgrade and Moscow are somewhat uncertain. The worsening geopolitical situation naturally raises the question of Serbia making a clear choice about whether to join Russia or the West. Belgrade continues to hold to a maximally neutral position, smiling diplomatically to both sides. Admittedly, Russia is only beginning to restore its former geopolitical weight, and cannot offer full support to Serbia. "

Ultimately, Komarov stressed that "it remains to be seen when Moscow will be able to triumphantly return to the Balkans. However, this will not occur before the resolution of the Ukrainian, Moldovan, and even the Syrian issues. It can only be hoped that by this time, Euro-Atlantic structures will remain unable to absorb Serbia, the last bulwark of support for Russia in the Balkans."

Written by Mika

18. oktobra 2016. at 08:30

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Why Russia Fears NATO

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nationalinterest.org

Why Russia Fears NATO

Ted Galen Carpenter

Adam Twardowski takes umbrage at arguments that I and other members of the realism and restraint camp have made that NATO’s behavior over the past two decades has exacerbated tensions with Russia. He begins his rebuttal with a drive-by smear that is increasingly in vogue among neoconservatives, dismissing such arguments as coming from “Russia’s apologists.” Elsewhere in the piece, he resorts to the even uglier smear of NATO critics as “Putin’s apologists.”

Twardowski begins his substantive case with the argument that if Russia truly feared NATO because of the alliance’s allegedly belligerent actions “then it makes no sense from a realist perspective that U.S.-Russian relations warmed at all following the Soviet Union’s disintegration.” That is a puzzling argument. Moscow clearly hoped for a new, united European security architecture in the years following the demise of the Soviet Union. It was only when NATO intervened in Bosnia in 1995 (some four years later) and idle talk about expanding the alliance eastward turned into an actual offer (three years after that) that Russian suspicions about Western, especially U.S., intentions became prominent.

Throughout the piece, Twardowski states or implies that Russian hostility toward NATO is a new phenomenon, basically dating from 2014 and the crisis over Ukraine. Nothing could be further from the truth. I encountered numerous Russian diplomats, journalists, and scholars during the mid-and late 1990s who were mystified and resentful at the U.S. decision to expand NATO eastward—in violation of what they regarded as a solemn promise not to do so. They were even angrier about the U.S.-led military interventions in the Balkans, a traditional Russian sphere of influence, in support of anti-Slavic factions. Although Russian leaders complained about such matters, Russia was simply too weak to do anything about it except issue impotent protests. During the Kosovo intervention, however, the commander of British forces worried that the United States was pushing Russia too far. He directly disobeyed a direct order from NATO Supreme Commander U.S. General Wesley Clark to attack Russian military personnel at Pristina airport, saying that he wasn’t about to start World War III. That was a strange fear if the Russians didn’t care about NATO’s actions.

One sign of Russia’s growing disillusionment with the West was seeing a series of generally pro-Western prime ministers under President Boris Yeltsin succeeded by the enigmatic but decidedly more nationalistic Vladimir Putin. And as Yeltsin’s successor, Putin would move to rebuild Russia’s military strength and adopt a much more assertive foreign policy.

The consequences of NATO’s arrogance became evident in 2008—long before the dust-up over Ukraine in 2014. The United States and its allies again double-crossed Russia regarding Kosovo, bypassing the UN Security Council (and a certain Russian veto) and acting as the midwife for the province’s unilateral declaration of independence. U.S. leaders then piled on the arrogance, asserting that the Kosovo situation was unique and set no precedent. Russia’s answer to that absurdity came a few months later when it exploited a reckless military move by Georgia against a secessionist region, South Ossetia, to counterattack and preside over the detachment of that region and another secessionist enclave, Abkhazia.

Twardowski argues on several occasions that NATO poses no “existential threat” to Russia. But I know of no realist who makes that argument. Indeed, “existential threat” is a concept that is used in a far too promiscuous fashion by Twardowski and his neoconservative colleagues, not by realists and not by the Russians. American hawks even use the term to describe the threat that a few thousand stateless Islamic terrorists pose—as though they truly threaten the very existence of the United States.

But NATO can and does menace important Russian interests without posing an existential threat. As I have described elsewhere, it would be a useful mental exercise to consider what the reaction in this country would be if an alliance dominated by another major power, say China, began to add the Caribbean countries, the Central American countries, and the northern tier powers of South America to a military alliance that it controlled. Consider further the probable reaction if the Chinese equivalents of neoconservatives campaigned to bring Canada and Mexico into such an alliance and deploy Chinese military forces in those countries. Would any U.S. leader—indeed, any prudent American—not consider that a threat to the nation’s security?

That is essentially what the United States and NATO have done to Russia. Yet Twardowski believes that the Russians have no legitimate complaints. His response is an operational definition of willful blindness.

Written by Mika

11. oktobra 2016. at 23:11

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Cold War, today, tomorrow, every day till the end of the world.

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Cold War, today, tomorrow, every day till the end of the world.

“Russia suspected of election scheme. U.S. probes plan to sow voter distrust.”

That’s the Washington Post page-one lead headline of September 6. Think about it. The election that Americans are suffering through, cringing in embarrassment, making them think of moving abroad, renouncing their citizenship; an election causing the Founding Fathers to throw up as they turn in their graves … this is because the Russian Devils are sowing voter distrust! Who knew?

But of course, that’s the way Commies are – Oh wait, I forgot, they’re no longer Commies. So what are they? Ah yes, they still have that awful old hangup so worthy of condemnation by decent people everywhere – They want to stand in the way of American world domination. The nerve!

The first Cold War performed a lobotomy on Americans, replacing brain matter with anti-communist viral matter, producing more than 70 years of functional national stupidity.

For all of you who missed this fun event there’s good news: Cold War Two is here, as big and as stupid as ever. Russia and Vladimir Putin are repeatedly, and automatically, blamed for all manner of bad things. The story which follows the above Washington Post headline does not even bother to make up something that could pass for evidence of the claim. The newspaper just makes the claim, at the same time pointing out that “the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so.” But the page-one headline has already served its purpose.

Hillary Clinton in her debate with Donald Trump likewise accused Russia of all kinds of computer hacking. Even Trump, not usually a stickler for accuracy, challenged her to offer something along the lines of evidence. She had nothing to offer.

In any event, this is all a diversion. It’s not hacking per se that bothers the establishment; it’s the revelations of their lies that drives them up the wall. The hack of the Democratic National Committee on the eve of the party’s convention disclosed a number of embarrassing internal emails, forcing the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

On September 12 we could read in the Post that a well-known physician had called for Clinton to be checked for possible poisons afer her collapse in New York. Said the good doctor: “I do not trust Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. With those two all things are possible.”

Numerous other examples could be given here of the Post’s near-juvenile anti-Russian bias. One of the most common subjects has been Crimea. Moscow’s “invasion” of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in February 2014 is repeatedly cited as proof of Moscow’s belligerent and expansionist foreign policy and the need for Washington to once again feed the defense-budget monster. But we’re never reminded that Russia was reacting to a US-supported coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Ukraine on Russia’s border and replaced it with a regime in which neo-Nazis, complete with swastikas, feel very much at home. Russia “invaded” to assist Eastern Ukrainians in their resistance to this government, and did not even cross the border inasmuch as Russia already had a military base in Ukraine.

NATO (= USA) has been surrounding Russia for decades. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov captured the exquisite shamelessness of this with his remark of September 27, 2014: “Excuse us for our existence in the middle of your bases.”

By contrast here is US Secretary of State, John Kerry: “NATO is not a threat to anyone. It is a defensive alliance. It is simply meant to provide security. It is not focused on Russia or anyone else.”

NATO war games in these areas are frequent, almost constant. The encirclement of Russia is about complete except for Georgia and Ukraine. In June, Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, shockingly accused NATO of “war-mongering” against Russia. How would the United States react to a Russian coup in Mexico or Canada followed by Russian military exercises in the same area?

Since the end of Cold War One, NATO has been feverishly searching for a reason to justify its existence. Their problem can be summed up with this question: If NATO had never existed what argument could be given now to create it?

The unmitigated arrogance of US policy in Ukraine was best epitomized by the now-famous remark of Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary at the State Department, reacting to possible European Union objection to Washington’s role in Ukraine: “Fuck the EU”, she charmingly declared.

Unlike the United States, Russia does not seek world domination, nor even domination of Ukraine, which Moscow could easily accomplish if it wished. Neither did the Soviet Union set out to dominate Eastern Europe post-World War II. It must be remembered that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever; and that the Russians in World Wars I and II lost about 40 million people because the West had twice used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviets were determined to close down the highway.

The Washington Post’s campaign to depict Russia as the enemy is unrelenting. Again, on the 19th, we could read in the paper the following: “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are investigating what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions, intelligence and congressional officials said.”

Nothing, however, compares with President Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly (September 24, 2014) where he classified Russia to be one of the three threats to the world along with the Islamic State and ebola.

A war between nuclear-powered United States and nuclear- powered Russia is “unthinkable”. Except that American military men think about it, like Cold-War US General Thomas Power, speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”

https://williamblum.org/aer/read/145

Written by Mika

2. oktobra 2016. at 17:50

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