Tag Archives: NATO

Reality Check: EU Replacing U.S. as Global Leader After Trump Leaves Iran Deal?

The president of the European Commission says the the EU needs to replace the U.S. as a global superpower because President Trump has announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Jean-Claude Juncker had strong words. But is he right?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.

“At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an international actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence…”

Those are the words of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during an address to Belgium’s Flemish Regional Parliament in Brussels. He says that the European Union should take over as global leader because the U.S. “no longer wants to cooperate” with the world, as it’s abandoning the Iran nuclear deal.

Is the EU posturing after President Donald Trump said the new U.S. sanctions against Iran would impact anyone who deals with Iran, including companies in the EU?

One sign indicating EU is posturing is talk of sanctioning the U.S.

According to Reuters, EU officials are revamping a blocking statue used by the governing body in the 1990s to threaten then President Bill Clinton’s administration when the U.S. tried to penalize foreign businesses trying to work with Cuba.

It worked, coupled with a political strategy, and Washington backed down.

Basically the statue blocks EU companies from following U.S. sanctions, and doesn’t recognize court rulings enforcing U.S. penalties for non-compliance. But it’s never actually been used, and is seen by EU governments as more of a warning to the U.S. than anything.

Now, the idea that Europe should or would replace the U.S. as global leader is somewhat silly at this point.

Through NATO, the United States uses its massive military to protect and pay for protection for 27 European nations, with the U.S. spending more than double and in some cases triple for defense.

But the underlying concern behind Juncker’s statements are the very real questions about the reasons for President Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, especially when the IAEA says Iran is in fact following the agreement.

The IAEA Director General released a statement last week stating, “As requested by the United Nations Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board of Governors in 2015, the IAEA is verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.

“Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime under the JCPOA, which is a significant verification gain. As of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.”

So what you need to know is that there are actually multiple story lines here.

The EU leadership posturing, stating the U.S. should no longer be the world leader—that isn’t really worth debating.

The IAEA saying that Iran is following the deal—that is something we need to pay attention to.

And finally, the biggest, most under reported story line so far—the fact that Israel is pushing this decision at the same moment that nation launching military strikes against Iranian positions in Syria.

Again, that is the question here. Is the U.S. going to be dragged into another Middle East war, this time alongside Israel against Iran and Syria?

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about it, right now, on Facebook and Twitter.

Ex-British Ambassador: Novichok Claims Are UK Attempt to ‘Step Up the Cold War’

London, UK— Former British ambassador Craig Murray, in an interview with RT, took direct aim at what he labeled a “desire by NATO members… to step up the cold war and enhance confrontation with Russia,” in relation to the claims that Russia used novichok nerve agent on Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil.

While Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has consistently laid the blame on Russia, scientists from the secretive defense laboratory Porton Down dealt this accusation a blow when it was revealed they could not confirm a Russian origin of the novichok nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack.

Scientists at Porton Down announced earlier in the week that they were unable to substantiate the government’s assertions that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been produced in Russia:

The Guardian reports that Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the government’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), said that while the substance had been identified as a military-grade novichok nerve agent, which could likely only be deployed by a nation-state (a disputed contention), there was no confirmation of Russian origins.

The Porton Down statement was “extremely important” according to Murray, who claimed that “a fortnight ago sources inside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told me they were ‘under pressure’ to say it was made in Russia” but they knew they were unable to do so and ‘refused.’”

“What we have seen today is news management because the Government had to get over the hurdle the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will shortly be telling people there is no evidence this came from Russia,” Murray said. “The Government decided for damage limitation it was best Porton Down came out and said that first. We will see careful news management over the next day or two.”

While Porton Down scientists said “a state” was likely to be behind the attack, due to the complexity of the agent, Murray said this assertion is inaccurate and that there is evidence to the contrary.

“The ‘probably’ in the statement is very important, there are many people including David Colum, professor of organic chemistry at Cornell University, who says it’s just not true it has to be a state and any of his senior students could make it,” Murray stated.

Murray went on to say that he suspected government handlers had made a hasty addition to the end of the Porton Down statement in an attempt to allow for increased suspicion to be focused on Russia after failing to legitimately tie the novichok to Russia.

“If you watch the interview, the sentence where he says it would probably need a state to make it is tacked on to the end. If you look closely, not only has the shot changed, the camera and tripod have actually moved. I strongly suspect government handlers who would have been in that room watching him were unhappy with his interview and wanted something which implicated Russia more, so added a bit onto the end.”

Furthermore, Murray claimed at least a couple of dozen states could make it— including the U.S. and U.K.— and went on to note that there “ought to be an investigation into a serious crime.”

“We are told probably this and likely that, well that is not the way criminal verdicts are found,” Murray said.

“This quite simply feeds into a desire by NATO members in particular to step up the cold war and enhance confrontation with Russia. This has to be seen in a wider geopolitical context. Within that context the last thing the politicians care about is the truth about what happened in Salisbury.”

Trump Calls NATO ‘Obsolete’

Following the deadly March 22 coordinated terror attacks in Brussels, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is arguing that the Brussels-headquartered North Atlantic Treaty Organization has become obsolete.

In an interview published Saturday in The New York Times, Trump said, “Well, I have two problems with NATO. No. 1, it’s obsolete. When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country. There was a different threat. Soviet Union was, the Soviet Union, not Russia, which was much bigger than Russia, as you know. And, it was certainly much more powerful than even today’s Russia, although again you go back into the weaponry. But, but – I said, I think NATO is obsolete, and I think that – because I don’t think – right now we don’t have somebody looking at terror, and we should be looking at terror. And you may want to add and subtract from NATO in terms of countries. But we have to be looking at terror, because terror today is the big threat. Terror from all different parts. You know in the old days you’d have uniforms and you’d go to war and you’d see who your enemy was, and today we have no idea who the enemy is.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Trump Says He’d Kill Terrorists’ Families, But Obama Already Has]

He added, “No. 1, we pay far too much. We are spending — you know, in fact, they’re even making it so the percentages are greater. NATO is unfair, economically, to us, to the United States. Because it really helps them more so than the United States, and we pay a disproportionate share. Now, I’m a person that — you notice I talk about economics quite a bit, in these military situations, because it is about economics, because we don’t have money anymore because we’ve been taking care of so many people in so many different forms that we don’t have money — and countries, and countries. So NATO is something that at the time was excellent. Today, it has to be changed. It has to be changed to include terror. It has to be changed from the standpoint of cost because the United States bears far too much of the cost of NATO.

Trump, who suggested that the United States should spend less on NATO, pointed to U.S. obligations to defend Ukraine’s interests in conflicts with Russia as a flaw in the arrangement.

[RELATED: Trump Relied on Funding from George Soros to Build Chicago Trump Tower]

Now I’m all for Ukraine, I have friends that live in Ukraine, but it didn’t seem to me, when the Ukrainian problem arose, you know, not so long ago, and we were, and Russia was getting very confrontational, it didn’t seem to me like anyone else cared other than us. And we are the least affected by what happens with Ukraine because we’re the farthest away. But even their neighbors didn’t seem to be talking about it,” he said.

The Blaze notes that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a foreign policy hawk, said, “[Trump] raised some serious questions about the U.S. and NATO. I share some of those questions. We used to split our costs 50-50 between the U.S. and Europe. Today it’s 70-30 between the U.S. and Europe. I would have a different approach. Rather than reducing our spending on what is a critical national security alliance, I would urge European leaders to increase their spending specifically so we can stop the kind of terrorist attacks we’ve seen in Paris and Brussels.

For more election coverage, click here.

Follow Barry Donegan on Facebook and Twitter.

Obama Defends US Involvement in Libya, Blames Europe for Aftermath

by Jason Ditz

A new round of wide-ranging comments on his assorted wars in The Atlantic saw President Obama defending America’s involvement in the 2011 NATO-imposed regime change in Libya, saying he had a UN mandate and it only cost $1 billion, which “is very cheap.”

And while Obama conceded that Libya turned into a “mess” in the aftermath, he sought to shift blame for that onto Europe, particularly Britain and France, saying he had “more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”

He was particularly open about France’s involvement, saying then-President Nicholas Sarkozy wanted to brag about all the flights France was launching, dispute waiting until the US wiped out all air defenses in the country. Obama said allowing France to take credit for more than they actually did was a way to “purchase France’s involvement” in the war.

He also took shots at British Prime Minister David Cameron, who he said “stopped paying attention” in Libya after the war, and ended up “distracted by a range of other things,” as well as other unnamed nations who were pushing the US to act but didn’t “have any skin in the game.”

Rights Groups Fault NATO General for Hyping ISIS in Refugees

by Jason Ditz

Adding to a flurry of claims of ISIS infiltration by way of the influx of refugees into Europe, and as usual providing no evidence to back it up, NATO Gen. Philip Breedlove claimed the refugees are “masking the movement” of ISIS and allowing the group to “spread like a cancer” across Europe.

Breedlove’s comments are in keeping with those of a number of NATO member nations looking for an excuse to stop the flow of refugees, or at least confine them to Turkey, but human rights groups were quick to fault him for making it sound like the refugees were a large security problem, when almost no militants have been confirmed to have infiltrated with them.

Indeed, it was only yesterday that the Netherlands confirmed that out of the 60,000 refugees they accepted, 30 “suspects” were found, and as yet none have conclusively been linked to ISIS. In the meantime, the Netherlands has faced violent anti-refugee protests led by far-right political figures.

When pressed to defend his own assertions, Gen. Breedlove simply insisted he’s “not going to talk to you about intelligence,” even though he couched his previous claims as intelligence, as opposed to just random xenophobic rhetoric.

NATO: Afghan Troops Should Defend Less, Attack More

by Jason Ditz

As Afghan troops continue to lose ground to advancing Taliban forces, NATO advisers say they want the Afghan military to spend even less time defending territory they already hold, and spend more time on the offensive against the Taliban.

NATO says that the Afghan military is dedicating too many troops to “poorly defended checkpoints,” and insisting that their effort to defend the entire country effectively means they aren’t able to defend anything particularly well.

Afghan forces today withdrew from the Nawzad District of Helmand Province, just days after ceding the neighboring Musa Qala District to the Taliban as well. The Taliban has repeatedly pushed into those districts, forcing the Afghan military to send reinforcements to try to recover them, but seems to have withdrawn for the near term now, saying defends the other districts are the priority.

Despite NATO’s goal of turning the war back into an offensive one, the big problem with the Afghan military seems to be one of numbers, as some 40% of the military exists only on paper, and in many cases this has meant the checkpoints have half the troops they were supposed to defending them.

Afghan officials warn they can’t really abandon their defense, imperfect as it is, because they’re losing enough ground to the Taliban as it is. Even if NATO can convince them, it’s not clear how these security forces, used to hanging out in ramshackle forts with no vehicles, are suddenly going to be able to go “offensive” anywhere not within walking distance.

US: NATO Exploring Possibility of Joining ISIS War

by Jason Ditz

According to US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, the NATO alliance is giving serious consideration to formally joining the war against ISIS. Carter praised NATO head Jens Stoltenberg for getting behind the effort.

The move would in many ways be symbolic, as all 28 NATO member nations have already joined the ISIS war individually as part of the US coalition, meaning this would just be the alliance as such formalizing its own involvement.

Making the war a ‘NATO thing’ might go a long way toward bolstering US efforts to get the rest of its coalition to commit growing numbers of ground troops into Iraq and Syria for the conflict. The US has so far faced considerable resistance on this call.

Carter confirmed speaking to dozens of coalition members during the Brussels meeting about trying to get them to commit more troops to the war, but other than Saudi Arabia’s offer to invade Syria, it’s unclear if they got anyone to bite.

US Special Ops Kicked Out of Libya

by Jason Ditz

A US military ground operation began and ended without much fanfare earlier this week in Libya, the Pentagon admitted today, in a shockingly bungling effort to secretly establish a presence of US special forces in the country.

A group of about 20 US soldiers, armed with assault rifles and bulletproof vests, but conspicuously not wearing uniforms, showed up in the Wattiya airbase just south of Tripoli Monday. Pictures of the US troops were published by the Libyan Air Force on their Facebook page.

The Air Force pointed out the troops arrived with no coordination and apparently no approval, though the Pentagon claims to have gotten an okay from some government faction or other, but apparently not the right ones, as local commanders quickly demanded that the US troops leave, and the Pentagon says they did to “avoid conflict.”

Pentagon officials further claimed the deployment was a “training mission” aimed at enhancing ties with the Libyan National Army, but didn’t explain why they sent the troops in wholly unannounced, nor why the troops were clearly combat-ready but out of uniform.

Recent conferences on Libya among NATO members, including one earlier this month in Rome, have had several nations talking up the idea of sending troops. It is surprising to learn, then, that the US went first, bungling their way into Libya and almost immediately getting chased out.

NATO Unveils Expansion Plans, Invites Montenegro

by Jason Ditz

Far from the Atlantic and not particularly northerly, the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro has formally been invited today to join NATO, as part of what the alliance is presenting as an ongoing growth strategy. A nation of 600,000 people, Montenegro first made efforts to secure an invite nine years ago.

NATO last expanded in 2009, with the admission of Albania and Croatia. Montenegro is one of four nations that had been actively seeking membership. Among the others, Bosnia and Herzegovina seems the only realistic potential member, as Georgia’s existing territorial disputes would preclude membership and Greece doesn’t want to allow Macedonia in because of their name. Ukraine has also recently talked up seeking membership, but similarly has outstanding territorial disputes.

Russia has objected to NATO’s repeated expansions in the past two decades, with those expansions absorbing the bulk of their former Warsaw Pact allies, and sees the continued expansion as a deliberately provocative move aimed at ultimately “surrounding” Russia.

With its accession, Montenegro will be the third smallest active military within NATO, larger only than Iceland and Luxembourg. With no active warplanes and only two active patrol boats, the addition to the alliance will be trivial to the broader balance of power between NATO and Russia.

Ex-NATO Commander Wesley Clark Says ISIS Serves Interests of Turkey, Saudi Arabia

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark said last week that ISIS’ Sunni insurgency against regional Shiite-dominated governments in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and Syria serves the regional political interests of Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Gen. Clark said on CNN’s The Lead, “When a NATO nation shoots down a Russian aircraft, it’s still an act by Turkey, not by NATO. These aircraft are not under NATO control. They’re under Turkish operational control. They’re flying as a result of Turkish air missions, and NATO is not running an air defense umbrella that’s integrated, to the best of my knowledge.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Is The Obama Administration Foreign Policy Giving Syria To ISIS?]

Let’s be very clear. ISIS is not just a terrorist organization, it is a Sunni terrorist organization. That means it blocks and targets Shia and that means it’s serving the interests of Turkey and Saudi Arabia even as it poses a threat to them, because neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia want an Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon bridge that isolates Turkey and cuts Saudi Arabia off,” said Clark.

He added, “All along there’s always been the idea that Turkey was supporting ISIS in some way. We know they’ve funneled people going through Turkey to ISIS. Someone’s buying that oil that ISIS is selling. It’s going through somewhere. It looks to me like it’s probably going through Turkey, but the Turks haven’t acknowledged that.

[RELATED: Turkish Journalists Detained for Reporting on Weapons Allegedly Supplied to ISIS]

Clark then gave his opinion that there is “no good guy in this [conflict].” He added, “The tactics used by the Assad regime [against ISIS] have been terror tactics. They’re dropping barrel bombs on innocent civilians… This is a power struggle for the Middle East using terror tactics and terrorists.

Earlier this year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media video exposing how U.S. foreign policy contributed to the rise of ISIS. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.


U.S. Official: Russian Jet Shot Down Inside Syrian Airspace

After a Russian jet was shot down near the border between Turkey and Syria on Tuesday, one United States official said the U.S. believes the jet was shot down inside Syrian airspace.

An anonymous U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. “believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace.”

The official claimed that the conclusion was reached “based on detection of the heat signature of the jet.”

The incident has led to conflicting accounts from Turkey and Russia. While Turkey claimed two Russian jets flew more than a mile into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds after being warned 10 times in five minutes to change their direction, Russia claimed that the jets never left Syrian airspace.

turkey russia plane airspace
Source: Twitter/AFP

[RELATED: Turkey Shoots Down Russian Warplane]

In response, Russian President Putin called the shooting a “stab in the back,” and alleged that Turkey directly supports terrorist groups like ISIS through illegal oil sales.

“Our military men are fighting terrorism, sacrificing their own lives, but today’s loss is a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorism,” Putin said.

The navigator of the Russian SU-24 that was shot down, Konstantin Murakhtin, was rescued, and told Russia’s Rossiya 1 channel that the jets received no warning.

Murakhtin claimed he did not enter Turkey’s airspace, and received no visual or radio warning before his plane was fired upon.

It’s impossible that we violated their airspace even for a second,” Murakhtin said. “We were flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters in completely clear weather, and I had total control of our flight path throughout.”

During a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande, President Obama urged communication between Russia and Turkey, and said, “Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), called for an emergency council meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. Members present said that while “none of the 28 NATO envoys defended Russia’s actions,” many of them “expressed concern that Turkey did not escort the Russian warplane out of its airspace.”

NATO Launches Massive Exercise to Prep for War With ‘Not Russia’

by Jason Ditz

NATO today launched its biggest single military exercise in more than 13 years, involving some 36,000 troops in the Mediterranean Sea, simulating a war spanning from Sicily to Spain and Portugal against a major invading European superpower, who officials are insisting is definitely totally not Russia.

The exercise is planned to last through November 6 and will focus on support a “Spearhead Force” that NATO intends to install along the Russian border, nominally to fend off a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe. The predictions of a Russian invasion have been growing out of NATO for a couple of years, and have justified significant increases in spending and military deployments into otherwise calm nations in the east.

The exercise is also going to involve “hybrid warfare” and challenging officers with Internet “propaganda” involving manipulated pictures and false intelligence, claiming to center on “lessons learned” during the 14-year-plus occupation of Afghanistan.

In addition to the NATO nations, 7 non-member nations will be participating in the exercise. Noteworthy among these is Ukraine, which predicts a full-scale global war with Russia seemingly on a weekly basis, and has ambitions to join the alliance.

NATO Endorses Turkey’s Strikes on ISIS

Officials Less Enthusiastic About Attacking Kurds

by Jason Ditz, July 28, 2015

NATO leaders held a 90-minute meeting today in response to Turkey’s request for a hearing on the “threats to their territorial integrity,” relating to recent fighting against both ISIS and Kurdish forces. Despite asking for a hearing, Turkey did not request military aid.

NATO did follow through by declaring “solidarity” with Turkey against ISIS, though several countries were said to be unwilling to endorse the attacks against the Kurds, saying they don’t want Turkey to abandon the PKK peace process.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the NATO members that Turkey is engaging in “self defense” against ISIS and the Kurds, but said NATO should prepare for the possibility of having to get involved and back Turkey in the fights, per the alliance agreement.

The US has been eagerly backing Turkey in its attacks on ISIS, since it secures them some convenient air bases, but the US has also been the most eager in backing the Kurds, meaning they’re going to be struggling to play both sides in that particular battle.

Ron Paul: Europeans Oppose NATO War With Russia

While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization beats war drums and the media propagates opposition to Russia, a new survey shows that the majority of the European people oppose NATO war with Russia.

The poll, conducted by PEW Research shows that populations in these countries are firmly against war with Russia even if Russian forces attack a NATO member country.

In his latest Liberty Report, three-time presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Ron Paul discussed the poll findings, his thoughts on NATO and war with Russia. “One disappointing thing was that more than the majority of the American people and the Canadian people were for getting engaged and sending troops,” Paul said. “That’s not the case in Europe.” Paul also noted that the poll shows older people skewing in favor of intervention while younger people are more pro-peace.

I think one of our problems is that we creep into war, and it’s not done by accident,” Paul explained. An example of this creeping is yesterday’s vote in Congress to raise the discussion on whether or not we should allow President Barack Obama the authority to use military force in the war on the Islamic State. Moreover, the sanctions imposed on other countries by the U.S. government is essentially an act of war, he said.

Though there may have been some questions on the economic impact of taking on Russia over Ukraine, sanctions don’t seem to be opposed. The U.S. pushed for broad new sanctions against Russia at G-7 in April of last year, and Truth In Media reported on a new series of sanctions against Russia by the U.S. and European Union last July.

I think the people, maybe too often, maybe in Canada and in the United States, they get their opinions from FOX and MSNBC,” Paul said. “And they sort-of preach this doctrine that we have these obligations to go and fight these wars. But it really doesn’t solve what our country ought to do with NATO. I’m afraid NATO is going to be with us for a very long time. I see it as only a tool for our propaganda.

Paul has been vocal in his position against NATO for years and has cited former Sen. Robert A. Taft’s reasoning for opposing the creation of the NATO alliance from the start.

And NATO is only expanding. Liberty Report co-host Daniel McAdams pointed out that the alliance is building a new headquarters with a hefty price tag. In spite of this, McAdams cited statistics showing U.S. opinion of NATO is shifting toward disapproval.

Paul again reinforced the idea that putting tough sanctions on a country is an act of war. “There was another figure I thought was interesting about how militant the Russians are now, how they’re ready to come, ‘the Russians are coming’,” he explained. “. . . and here, the people closest to them aren’t too worried about it.” If you examine military expenditures and consider who is spending the most, the U.S. reigns supreme. Second is China, followed by Saudi Arabia and then Russia.

It’s perpetual war for perpetual peace because we are the good guys and we’re after the evil doers and we’re an exceptional nation,” Paul said. “It puts us in a tough spot because there is so much greatness that has been associated with America and the advancement for the cause of Liberty. But I can’t argue that the advancement for the cause of liberty has been very good for the past 100 years. But these people that argue the case that because of our greatness and we protect liberty—and you can make a case for the evil doers ISIS—but think of who does more beheadings than ISIS. It happens to be Saudi Arabia. So this is the problem, and this also opens up the door for advancing our cause and our foreign policy, which is the traditional American foreign policy. It is one that the founders advised.

Watch the full episode above and check out more episodes of the Ron Paul Liberty Report here at Truth In Media.

In case you missed Ben Swann’s Truth In Media episode on ISIS watch it below:


Henry Kissinger Warns of Return of “Cold War Conditions”

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned the United States and Russia to avoid a return to Cold War Conditions.

Henry Kissinger is warning the United States and Russia to consider diplomatic resolutions to the conflict in Ukraine or a return to Cold War conditions is imminent. Speaking to the BBC’s World this Weekend, Kissinger also stated that limits on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nations should be lifted if they are to develop an adequate defense against Russia.

“NATO has to develop military  capacities that are relevant to dangers that they foresee. If they are determined to resist further Russian military moves it means that defense limitations should be lifted. It is inevitable that we are in a cold war strategy with Russia.”

He blamed less than cordial diplomacy between NATO and Russia for the current state of Ukraine. “I think it is essential that both Russia and NATO take a serious look at their diplomatic solutions because if they fail then I think a return to Cold war conditions is very likely.” 

The warning comes on the heels of an announcement by the United States to send $75 million worth of military equipment to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. The equipment includes small unarmed drones, Humvees, and other forms of aid but none of the requested lethal weapons. President Obama is reportedly still considering sending weapons to Ukraine.

At the same time the United States has sent tanks and armored vehicles to Latvia as part of NATO military exercises known as Operation Atlantic Resolve.  RT reported that more than 120 armored tanks and vehicles were sent to Latvia. Latvian Minister of Defense Raymond Vejonis called the exercise and equipment, “a confirmation of solidarity and security in the region.”

Operation Atlantic Resolve involved Canadian and American soldiers working with Latvian soldiers.

Russian Deputy defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said NATO is using the situation in Ukraine as cover for getting closer to Russia’s border.

“Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst of which is terrorism, Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against unwelcome states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target,”
– Russian Deputy defense Minister Anatoly Antonov

In late 2014, I asked Is America Preparing for War with Russia?I suggest a reading of that article to understand the build up between the two nations. The United States continues to push Russia with sanctions yet Russia seems undeterred.

One of the most troubling actions from either country came in the last days of 2014.  On December 26 President Putin approved an updated war doctrine for Russia. The doctrine makes it clear that Russia will use military force to protect its citizens. The doctrine also stated that the US and NATO allied countries pose a military threat to the existence of Russia as a sovereign free nation.

Putin said Washington is to blame for the changes, with it’s own war doctrine of pre-emptive attacks, deployment of anti-ballistic missiles, and buildup of NATO forces on Russia’s border. Russia also acknowledged attempts at regime change through “actions aimed at violent change of the Russian constitutional order, destabilization of the political and social environment, and disorganization of the functioning of governmental bodies, crucial civilian and military facilities and informational infrastructure of Russia.”

As several independent media outlets have reported, there is much evidence indicating the United States and other Western Non-Governmental Organizations have had a role in fomenting unrest in Ukraine.

Mint Press News reported:

The U.S. has loaded the Ukraine government and key businesses with Americans or U.S. allies. Nuland was caught on a telephone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, picking the next leader of Ukraine. The call is more famous for her closing line — “Fuck the EU” — but in the call she also says that the next leader of Ukraine should be the former banker Arseniy Yatseniuk, who she calls by a nickname “Yats.” Indeed, he has since become the prime minister of the post-coup Ukrainian government.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is identified in State Department documents as an informant for the U.S. since 2006. The documents describe him as “[o]ur Ukraine (OU) insider Petro Poroshenko.” The State Department documents also report that Poroshenko is “tainted by credible corruption allegations.”

Last March Ben Swann examined the links between Western governments and the ongoing  situation in Ukraine.

Top NATO General, European DMs Oppose US Plans to Arm Ukraine

Officials Warn Move Risks Escalating War

by Jason Ditz, February 05, 2015

Several European defense ministers at a NATO meeting today in Brussels warned against the Obama Administration’s reports they are strongly considering providing arms to Ukraine for its ongoing civil war.

German DM Ursula von der Leyen warned that introducing more weapons into the area won’t bring Ukraine’s civil war closer to a solution, while others added it was likely to fuel the conflict.

Top NATO General Philip Breedlove, who interestingly enough was said to be the driving force behind the US sending arms to Ukraine in the first place, also talked down the idea in comments, saying arming the Ukrainian military risked a reaction from Russia to provide more aid to the rebels.

Virtually all of the European DMs opposed the plan, though Lithuanian DM Juozas Olekas said his nation supported the plan to provide “some elements” to the Ukrainian military.

Report: Former U.S. Officials Propose Supplying Ukraine with $3 Billion in Military Aid

On Monday, eight former United States senior officials issued a report proposing that the U.S. send $3 billion in military aid to Ukraine, after pro-Russian separatists ended a five-month truce and resumed fighting in Eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

The report, which was first released by the New York Times, urged the United States to send $3 billion in defensive equipment to Ukraine, including “anti-armor missiles, reconnaissance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can determine the location of enemy rocket and artillery fire.”

The contributors to the report include former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder, former Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Jan Lodal, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and former Deputy Commander, U.S. European Command Charles Wald.

The report claims that a “stronger Ukrainian military” will increase the prospects for “negotiation of a peaceful settlement,” and will “make clear that the West will not accept the use of force to change borders in Europe.”

The Guardian reported that although the White House has “stopped short of providing military aid to Ukraine in order to avoid provoking Russia,” it has joined the European Union in putting a series of sanctions in place against Russia.

The New York Times noted that while the U.S. has not provided Ukraine with “lethal” military equipment, it has supplied “non-lethal” items, including “body armor, night-vision goggles, first aid kits and engineering equipment.”

According to Reuters, although NATO and Kiev “accuse Russia of sending thousands of troops to support the rebel advance with heavy weapons and tanks,” Moscow denies its direct involvement.

The New York Times reported that in addition to the eight former U.S. officials showing their support for sending arms to Ukraine, the idea has also garnered support from Secretary of State John Kerry, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Kerry is planning to visit Kiev on Thursday, to speak with Ukrainian officials.

Five Americans killed in friendly fire incident

U.S. defense officials are saying five American NATO service members were killed Monday by what is thought to be friendly-fire in southern Afghanistan.

Five servicemen were reported to have been killed by an airstrike they had called in themselves while fighting Taliban insurgents in the Zabul province of Afghanistan.  A helicopter responded to the call and opened fire on the American soldiers the crew had mistaken as the targets.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi has also claimed when Taliban insurgents engaged with the coalition forces, an assault helicopter had mistaken coalition forces as Taliban members, opening fire on them.

“We had launched a clearance operation in an area with a high security threat,” Zabul police chief, General Ghulam Sakhi, whose security forces have been working with NATO, said.  “When it was over and we were returning to base, the enemy opened fire and [the U.S. troops] asked for air support. The helicopters made a mistake and targeted their own people.”

Attacks from insurgent groups have increased in the country ahead of presidential runoff elections to be held this Saturday.  According to CBS News, officials are worried more violent attacks could be on the way until the elections are over.

The majority of U.S. forces station in Afghanistan are no longer involved in direct conflicts in the country, but when U.S. forces are involved, usually they are Special Operation Forces.  It is not uncommon for these Special Operation Forces to call in air support when under extreme pressure from attackers.

This incident has brought the total number of service members killed in Afghanistan to 36 for this year.