Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lies And Distortions (Ukraine Version)

Berlin 'Stunned' At U.S. Desire For War In Ukraine

Der Spiegel reports, The Germans are not happy.
Breedlove's Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel's efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin's approach. And NATO's top commander in Europe hasn't been helping either.

It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn't holding perfectly, but it was holding.
On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again "upped the ante" in eastern Ukraine -- with "well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery" having been sent to the Donbass. "What is clear," Breedlove said, "is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day."

German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn't understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn't the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove's numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America's NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove's comments as "dangerous propaganda." Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove's comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

But Breedlove hasn't been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel's diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove's bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the "super hawk," whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America's more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

But it is the tone of Breedlove's announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO -- and by extension, the entire West -- in danger of losing its credibility.

There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians -- even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing -- had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced "direct Russian military intervention."
Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency's satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it "remains a riddle until today" how the general reached his conclusions.

At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was "incredibly concerning." But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove's view in almost every respect.

Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were "regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine." One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren't fighting units, but "mostly trainers and advisors."

On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that "we have seen columns of Russian equipment -- primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops -- entering into Ukraine." It was, he noted, "the same thing that OSCE is reporting." But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. "I would prefer that Breedlove's comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved," says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. "Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism." 
Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. "We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had," he says.

The Likud party on Saturday night dismissed the leftist rally that took place at the Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, saying it was part of a foreign-funded campaign.

About 30,000 people participated in the rally which called for a change in leadership for the 20th Knesset.
Participants included representatives from Meretz, Peace Now, Labor and representatives of the V15 group.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan spoke at the rally as well, blaming the right and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for last summer’s war in Gaza.

"The rally in Tel Aviv is part of a campaign orchestrated by the left which is financed with millions of dollars from outside Israel. Its goal is to replace thenationalist Likud government headed by Netanyahu with a leftist government headed by Tzipi [Livni] and Buji [Herzog] who will be supported by the Arab party. Millions of dollars are flowing from overseas these days to raise the number of voters in the Arab sector,” the Likud party said.

"The keynote speaker, Meir Dagan, is a leftist. It is strange that he now claims that he does not trust the current leadership, when he himself wanted to extend his tenure as head of the Mossad under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu,” continued the Likud.

“But the wise public knows the truth: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu leads resolutely and firmly the international campaign to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he does not give in to international pressure, and only a Likud government headed by Netanyahu will prevent the establishment of a second terrorist state in Judea and Samaria and keep Jerusalem united forever,” concluded the Likud’s statement.

Earlier on Saturday, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) blasted Dagan for his comments at the rally, saying that Dagan’s “irresponsible chatter causes great damage to national security.”
"Dagan's politically motivated acts of hatred are clear and his hatred for the Prime Minister has long blinded his ability to see reality," said Levin.

"The damage is even worse when Dagan's dangerous statements are fully exploited by Iranian propaganda to condemn Israel," he added.

Also see:

Saudi Arabia has passed India to become the world’s biggest arms importer last year as concerns about Iran’s ambitions increase tensions in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Israel has dropped to the seventh slot among the top 10 arms exporters in the world, down from the sixth slot in 2014.

Saudi spending rose 54 percent to $6.5 billion last year, while India imported $5.8 billion, according to data released Sunday by IHS, a leading analyst of the global arms trade. Imports will increase 52 percent to $9.8 billion this year, accounting for $1 of every $7 spent globally, IHS estimated, based on planned deliveries.

“This is definitely unprecedented,” said Ben Moores, the report’s author. “You’re seeing political fractures across the region, and at the same time you’ve got oil, which allows countries to arm themselves, protect themselves and impose their will as to how they think the region should develop.”

Saudi Arabia is building its arsenal amid concern about a geopolitical shift in the Middle East as the United States looks for help in fighting the Islamic State group, said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Negotiators are nearing a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and lift sanctions against the country, which would create new opportunities for economic development and threaten Saudi Arabia’s longstanding ties with the United States.

The biggest beneficiary of the growing Middle Eastern market was the United States, with $8.4 billion of arms shipments to the region last year, up from $6 billion in 2013. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates imported a combined $8.7 billion of defense systems last year — more than all of Western Europe.

“It may be a way of tempering that rapprochement with Iran,” Cortright said. “You can think of it as … deepening ties in a time of uncertainty, as a possibly greater role with Iran looms on the horizon.”
The Saudis are also worried about the rise of Islamic State and are cooperating with the US- led coalition.

“We’ve all been waiting for the storm in the Middle East,” Moores said.


Peter said...

Would Netanyahu ever enter into a dangerous 'treaty with many'? No. If we are that close to these events, someone instead of him will need to be in charge so Israel can put themselves in a dangerous position, only to ultimately allow for the fulfillment of scripture. Regarding, Saudi Arabia, check out Isaiah 13 and 21, especially who leads the charge.

Scott said...

Peter. Thats an excellent point. And makes the case that the closer we are (and the more pressure) thats put on this so-called peace plan, then the closer we are to the arrival of the ac. I so totally agree w that point