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How Russia is countering Western aggression in the Black Sea and beyond

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A previous article entitled Battlefield: Black Sea examined the development of US and NATO military deployment in the Black Sea region. This article focuses on the ways in which Russia is moving to counter what it perceives as an aggressive US-NATO strategy.

Russia's Counterstrategy

After the US-backed coup in Ukraine, the people of Crimea voted for reunification with Russia. While this was undoubtedly a politically and economically motivated move to secure their own safety and future amid the entirely predictable collapse of Ukraine, it would not have been possible without a clear military and strategic (and of course political and diplomatic) benefit for Russia. That such a benefit existed was plainly obvious. For Moscow, Crimea is more than a historic territory of Russia; it is a strategically vital region for Russia's navy and military generally.

The security and integrity of the Russian Black Sea fleet, based in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula for more than two centuries, was of primary importance to Moscow. As such, since the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation, and the chaos throughout Ukraine, the Kremlin has moved quickly to modernize and bolster its naval assets in the Black Sea. While this was necessary by any measure, the move was also to preempt any military escalation by US-NATO; Washington and Brussels have moved ahead with their military buildup regardless.

Within months of the Crimea referendum, Russia announced a massive upgrade of the Black Sea fleet, in order to make it, in the words of Russian military officials, "modern" and "self-sufficient." As Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov explained, "The Black Sea Fleet must have a full complement of naval vessels to be capable of performing all assigned missions...This is not a provocative military buildup. This is something the Black Sea Fleet urgently needs as it has not been receiving new vessels for many years." As part of this modernization and upgrade, the fleet will receive 30 new ships by the end of the decade, including a full complement of modern warships, submarines, and auxiliary vessels. Additionally, Moscow intends for the fleet to be self-sufficient, meaning that it will expand bases, house troops year-round, and generally be able to support itself in Crimea without the need for special assistance from Moscow.

But Russia of course recognizes that the growing political conflict with the West, with all the attendant military and strategic implications, requires partners and allies. With that in mind, Moscow has worked diligently to foster military cooperation with China generally, and in the Black Sea specifically.

Star of David

Pro-Israel bias: BBC admits editorial breach in interview with Israeli defense chief

© Reuters / Amir Cohen
Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon.
The BBC has reached a "provisional finding" to uphold complaints made by Palestinian activists that the broadcaster breached its editorial guidelines in a "soft" interview with the Israeli defense minister.

Complaints focused on BBC journalist Sarah Montague's alleged failure to challenge controversial claims made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

Journalist Amena Saleem, who works with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), wrote on Electronic Intifada that she received an email last week from the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) indicating grievances lodged by the PSC would be upheld.

However, a BBC spokesperson said the finding was "provisional" and the outcome was yet to be finalized.

According to a PSC transcript of the interview, broadcast on BBC Radio 4's flagship news program "Today" on March 19, Ya'alon said that Palestinians enjoy political independence.

If the complaint is upheld, it is the second time in recent months the ECU has censured the state-run corporation for its pro-Israel bias.


BBC News Online was found to have breached its editorial guidelines last July when it described the author of an article about Gaza's hidden tunnels as an "independent defense analyst."

The author, Dr Eado Hecht, is a lecturer in military doctrine at Bar Ilan University, an institution described by the ECU as being "explicitly pro-Israeli."

The complaints board also acknowledged the author had "published articles written from a clearly pro-Israeli perspective."

In Montague's interview with Ya'alon, the senior BBC journalist failed to address misleading statements by the Israeli defense minister.

According to a transcript, Ya'alon said Palestinians "enjoy already political independence. They have their own political system, government, parliament, municipalities and so forth. And we are happy with it. We don't want to govern them whatsoever."

Comment: "The result was that the output fell below the BBC's standards of impartiality,"

The BBC is Washington's 'ministry of propaganda - UK branch'

For more examples of 'impartial' reporting from the BBC on Israel / Palestine, see:

Israel's lies go unchallenged on BBC's flagship current affairs show

Israel apologist BBC, facing accusations of bias, admits coverage of Israel/Palestine is "tough"

Hail also to Ken Loach who slams BBC's pro-Israel coverage of Gaza war

'Israel under renewed Hamas attack' says the BBC. More balance is needed

How the BBC whitewashed Israel's war crimes from the ceasefire in Gaza

As Israel assaults Gaza, BBC reporting assaults the truth


Snakes in Suits

Obama's proposed police reforms an empty diversion tactic

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President Obama's "ban" on certain military hardware and gear is both fraudulent and a diversion from the real issue: the oppressive mission of the police in Black America. The cops who killed Michael Brown and Freddie Gray and countless others "weren't wearing battlefield outfits, firing automatic rifles, or riding around in tanks. They murder quite efficiently with handguns, batons and their hands and feet, as cops always have done."
"It is the MISSION of the police that is lethal, racist, oppressive and unacceptable to Black America; the equipment and clothing is incidental."
President Obama took his police "reform" shell game to Camden, New Jersey, this week, announcing a ban on the sale of some types of military equipment to local police departments, and restrictions on other weapons, gear and equipment. As with all of the administration's responses to the nine-month-old Black Lives Matter movement, it was an exercise in public relations and calculated diversion, crafted to camouflage the essential nature of the Mass Black Incarceration State - what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow.

Obama is the true Mad Man, an impresario of "impressions." He told a crowd at a Salvation Army center in Camden, "We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force, as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them." To soothe such "feelings" in Black communities, Obama claimed his executive order would halt the use of federal funds to purchase tracked armored vehicles, the highest-caliber guns and ammo, bayonets, grenade launchers and camouflage uniforms, and put controls on wheeled armor vehicles, certain kinds of explosives and flares, manned aircraft, drones, battering rams and riot gear - and, of course, require more training for police officers in the use of such ordnance and equipment. Presumably, communities that have been under siege by police for generations will now feel much better.

Vader

Obama signs bill creating Amber Alert system for violence against law enforcement

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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed a new bill intended to help keep better track of violent attacks against law enforcement. S.665 is also known as the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015, named for two NYPD officers killed late last year. It will set up infrastructure at the local, state, and federal level to keep meticulous track of acts committed against police. According to Congress' website, the bill will create a Department of Justice-sponsored "Blue Alert" system, which mirrors the Amber Alert system created to locate abducted children.

The bill defines "Blue Alert" as
"...information sent through the network relating to: (1) the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, (2) an officer who is missing in connection with the officer's official duties, or (3) an imminent and credible threat that an individual intends to cause the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer."
On one hand, there is already a system in place to record the deaths of police officers. The FBI issues a national, annual report that details the number of officers killed and attacked (it also lists accidental deaths). Last year, 51 officers were killed on the job.

Comment: Despite Obama's recent ban on selling military equipment to police departments - a public relations move above all else - the signing of this bill into law makes it clear that the U.S. government is far more interested in protecting their local military outfits than the occupied people they claim to protect and serve.


Star of David

Israel's actions show that it's an enemy of the U.S.

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Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has selected as his Minister of Justice a woman who has expressed hatred against all Palestinians, and he has appointed as his negotiator with the Palestians a man who said, and who has always followed though with, "We are all against a Palestinian state, there is no question about it."

These policies are direct rejections of the U.S.-overseen 1978 Camp David Accords, and of consistent U.S. policy since. The Camp David Accords were so bad for the Palestinians that the signatory on their behalf, Egypt's leader Anwar Sadat, was despised by virtually all Muslims and was assassinated for having done this. But Egypt abided by the Accords, while Israel for decades since has been constantly hemming and hawing about when they will some day fulfill their obligations under them; and, now, we finally have been given the answer: It's never. They signed an agreement that was so bad for Palestinians it was rejected by them and by the U.N., but now it's finally clear: to Israel, it's not bad enough to Palestinians. So: Israel insists upon continued (and now upon never-ending) military occupation.

Netanyahu has proven by actions, not mere words, that Israel is America's enemy, refusing to do even what Israel had signed an American-sponsored accord in 1978 promising to do — and, now, at last, installing a government that is deeply committed to never complying with it.

In 2011, someone posted to facebook an article, "List of Politicians with Israeli Dual Citizenship," and gave no links to sources but merely his own untrustworthy allegations, that the following U.S. Government officials possess dual U.S. and Israeli citizenships:
Elliott Abrams, Kenneth Adelman, Stuart Bernstein, Brad Blakeman, Lincoln Bloomfield, Samuel Bodman, John Bolton, Joshua Bolten, Nancy Brinker, Michael Chertoff, Bonnie Cohen, Eliot Cohen, Ruth Davis, Douglas Feith, Ari Fleischer, Lawrence Franklin, David Frum, Christopher Gersten, Joseph Gildenhorn, Adam Goldman, Steve Goldsmith, Marc Grossman, Richard Haass, Henry Kissinger, Daniel Kurtzer, Frank Lavin, Jay Lefkowitz, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Edward Luttwak, Ken Melman, Michael Mukasey, Richard Perle, Robert Satloff, James Schlesinger, Mel Sembler, Martin Silverstein, Cliff Sobel, Mark Weinberger, Ron Weiser, Paul Wolfowitz, David Wurmser, Dov Zakheim, Robert Zoellick.

Eye 1

Nuland's visit to Moscow and Washington's chameleon effect

© Unknown
Victoria Nuland, previously foreign policy adviser to vice-president Dick Cheney. Married to neo-con Robert Kagan. Her slogan sums up the US' attitude towards the EU.
Victoria Nuland arrived in Moscow last weekend and declared that Ukraine's government doesn't intend to resume the civil war. Either Nuland was being mendacious or President Poroshenko is on a dangerous solo-run.

It's all gone Lethal Weapon. Not in the sense of munitions, although some of those are definitely in play, but rather the movie series. Just as Danny Glover and Mel Gibson delivered four memorable performances in their good cop/bad cop roles, the US State Department is now deploying the tactic.

First John Kerry, who like Glover probably thinks he's getting too old for this, turns up all smiles in Sochi. Convinced the straight man's charm offensive has softened Russian resolve, the Americans then let Victoria Nuland loose on Moscow. The fact that the Russians were so pleasant about it, after she helped coordinate the 2014 Kiev coup, speaks volumes for their tolerance.

Comment: Also see:


Bad Guys

The history of Ukraine from the Soviet collapse to a neo-Nazi dystopia

© AP Photo/Manu Brabo
The Ukrainian elites, which receive upon the division of the Soviet inheritance everything necessary for the successful state building, by their own actions brought the country to the brink of a collapse.

Ideal starting conditions

Politics and history are not pre-determined. The "project Ukraine" living its last days was not doomed from the start.

Suddenly emerged new country had the world's 10th economy. It housed on its territory 40% of the Soviet military industry and 60% of the heavy industry. Well-developed agriculture was not only able to provide enough to cover domestic needs but also to actively export agricultural products. The network of the railroad and highways, long-distance pipelines, several large warm water ports more than covered the needs of the foreign trade but also had an almost unlimited potential for transit. The Ukraine's population was 52 million, and the demographic dynamics in 1991-1992 was still positive. The country possessed highly trained work force, a well developed system of personnel training for the industry and agriculture, high quality scientific base. All these goods were protected by half a million-strong group of the Soviet Army - the largest in the USSR -armed with the most modern weapons, since it was deployed at the peak of the potential main offensive.

USA

"War is just a racket": Memorial day is a hoax. "Our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers"

© americleaninc.com
Memorial Day commemorates soldiers killed in war. We are told that the war dead died for us and our freedom. US Marine General Smedley Butler challenged this view. He said that our soldiers died for the profits of the bankers, Wall Street, Standard Oil, and the United Fruit Company. Here is an excerpt from a speech that he gave in 1933:
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Most American soldiers died fighting foes who posed no threat to the United States. Our soldiers died for secret agendas of which they knew nothing. Capitalists hid their self-interests behind the flag, and our boys died for the One Percent's bottom line.

Arrow Down

Ukrainian parliament makes ignoring human rights official policy



The Ukrainian parliament has approved a regulation removing the obligation to protect certain human rights in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

An note accompanying the regulation states that the conduct of what Kiev calls"anti-terrorist operations" in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions is not in compliance with the country's obligations for the protection of human rights. The document, cited by Tass, also mentions an "objective necessity to take measures to repel armed aggression of the Russian Federation"prompting Ukraine"to implement a temporary derogation from its obligations to ensure certain human rights to the extent permitted by relevant international agreements."

Among the articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights the Ukrainian authorities can now refuse to fulfill in Eastern Ukraine are those stipulating the obligations to protect the security of citizens and their right to a fair trial, freedom of movement, choice of residence and guarantee the inviolability of people's homes.

Comment: In other words, this will be business as usual for the Kiev regime; they are only making the violation of human rights an official policy. What else can one expect from a government that embraces Neo-Nazis?


Bad Guys

U.S. coalition's increased aid to extremists bears fruit: Palmyra, Syria, falls to ISIS

© Sergey Ponomarev/New York Times
The central Syrian city of Palmyra last year. On Wednesday, Islamic State fighters fought their way into the city center.
News reports have begun to come in about the fall of Palmyra to ISIS in Syria, and while most Western media has rightly been concerned with the city's ancient ruins, few mentions have been given to the welfare of the people living in the region, or the fact that "The Syrian army launched a massive operation to evacuate as many civilians as possible of the city's 100,000 inhabitants before its epic defeat." (Debkafile, May 20, 2015)

Perhaps it is not expedient to the Western narrative to report the fact that the Syrian army is heavily invested in the protection of its people.

However, these outlets do note that "The capture of Palmyra is the first time the al Qaeda offshoot has taken control of a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces, which have already lost ground in the northwest and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks." (Reuters, May 20, 2015) (emphasis added)

The title "insurgent groups" is a euphemism for al-Qaeda, as "the Syrian military opposition is dominated by ISIS and by Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda representative, in addition to other jihadi groups,"(1) and their gains are not some recent aberration but instead are the direct result of the US-led coalition ramping up aid to their proxy forces in the region.

Comment: We couldn't agree more. One big coincidence? Yeah right.