‘NATO bombing of Yugoslavia paved way for 1 million civilian casualties worldwide’

Carried out under a false pretext and in disregard of the UN, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 paved the way for similar US-led operations in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere and over a million were killed, an analyst has told RT.

NATO’s attack 20 years ago, which was launched “without declaring war and without any permission from the UN Security Council, was a transformative act which has changed the world ever since,” Marko Gasic, commenter on international affairs, said.

"This formula… that you don’t need UN Security Council authorization was then implemented at the expense of Iraq and Libya and elsewhere. So far, the decision to bomb Yugoslavia has led to over a million casualties worldwide; and rising."

Back in 1999, the US and its allies launched airstrikes in what was then Yugoslavia, after blaming Belgrade for “excessive and disproportionate use of force” in a conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency in Kosovo.

NATO warplanes carried out 900 sorties during the brutal 78-day bombing campaign, which officially claimed at least 758 civilian lives. But Serbian sources insist the actual death toll was twice as high.

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NATO had used depleted uranium in its air strikes on Yugoslavia. Despite the studies showing that children born there after the bombing are prone to cancer, “very little” has been or is being done to hold the bloc accountable, Gasic said.

The Yugoslav authorities tried suing NATO, but its “response was to create a ‘Color Revolution’ (in 2000) there and bring its own puppets to power… who abandoned the lawsuit.”

“The world community really needs to take NATO to task. And If Serbia is too weak to do it, we need other countries to take an interest. If they don’t defend Serbia – it’ll be their borders next that NATO will be coming for,” the analyst warned.

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Turkey says buying S-400 vital to ‘protect our 82mn citizens’

The Turkish defense minister has said that buying Russian S-400 air defense systems is a matter of necessity, vital for the protection of the country’s population.

Speaking to the Anadolu agency editors’ desk, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed the deployment of the Russian-made systems will begin in October. He doubled down on defending Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400s, maligned in Washington.

We have to protect our 82 million citizens.

Turkey has been defying warnings from the US, a fellow NATO member, which has been trying to dissuade Ankara from procuring Russian-made weapons. Those attempts have ranged from threatening to punish Turkey under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) or review F-35 fighter jet sales, to saying that the S-400s are incompatible with NATO systems.

Also on rt.com ‘We aren’t slaves’: Erdogan defies US pressure over S-400 deal with Russia, says S-500 may follow...

Akar said while Turkey is fulfilling all of its NATO obligations, the alliance is not doing enough for Turkey’s protection, and thus the country needs air defense systems from elsewhere.

The US has also been trying to pressure India into ditching its S-400 deal with Russia. New Delhi has said the issue is not up for discussion.

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Russia Denounces Deployment of US Forces near Venezuela

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday denounced the deployment of special commandos and military equipment from the United States near the border with Venezuela, and the preparations for a provocation, according to the most demanding rules of ''the military manual''.

Special forces and military equipment have been deployed near Venezuelan territory, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted.

She also referred to plans by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to supply weapons and ammunition to Venezuelan opposition.

The purchase of weapons and ammunition will take place in an Eastern European country and includes big-caliber machineguns, grenade launchers and portable antiaircraft systems, the spokeswoman denounced.

The military equipment will be supplied to Venezuela in early March, in several batches that will be delivered on a territory near the border of that country by cargo planes from an international company, Zakharova noted.

For that action, planes manufactured by the Ukrainian company Antonov are expected to be used, she clarified.

Zakharova pointed out that a large-scale provocation is expected on Saturday, as Washington has called and promoted a convoy of humanitarian aid that will try to cross the Venezuelan border, she stated.

That action might cause a clash between opponents to and supporters of the Venezuelan government, and would be aimed at creating a pretext for an action of force in order to oust Venezuela's legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman warned.

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Russia Ridicules NATO's Reaction to Putin's Warning

Moscow, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) Russia on Thursday ridiculed the reaction by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), after the warning made by President Vladimir Putin in his speech before the Federal Assembly.

On Wednesday, Putin accused the United States and NATO of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and noted that his country was preparing weapons to deal with the defense risks after the treaty is annulled.

Russia reserves to itself the right to consider as targets not only the territories where those armaments are deployed, but also the centers where the decisions for their deployment are made, Putin stressed.

The leadership of the Atlantic alliance pointed out that Russia's threats to include the allies among the targets are unacceptable, and denied the wish to start a new arms race.

But why is that nervousness suddenly? Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said when responding to the declaration from NATO.

A year ago, the western partners rushed to say that the new weapons shown by Putin before the Federal Assembly were 'Russian puppets', but now, when they understand that they are in the sights, the realize about the reality, she noted.

Did they by any chance think that we would take a selfie with them, after NATO's expansion, the concentration of forces on our border and the endless interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states? Zakharova wondered.

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New Integrity Initiative leak: Make Muslims love NATO, target anti-frackers, plan for nuclear war

A new batch of leaked files from the covert influence network exposes how the Integrity Initiative recruits high-flying businessmen for intel ops, shows UK Muslims “why NATO matters” and prepares for nuclear conflict with Russia.

With the UK Foreign Office and NATO-backed organization still //medium.com/@hitthehybrid/kremlin-campaign-against-institute-for-statecraft-92aa73ce4ec9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reeling from previous leaks whose authenticity it has not attempted to disprove, the fifth tranche of internal communications was uploaded to a public server this week under the name of hacktivist group Anonymous.

As before, it features the London-based group clandestinely meddling in various areas of civilian life for the benefit of its own undeclared objectives.

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Top business executives on ‘patriot’ list

The Integrity Initiative’s network of loyal journalists and academics has already been uncovered, but “speaking notes” for an address given in Israel in the summer of 2018 by its director, Daniel Lafayeedney, show that its scope of intelligence asset recruitment is much broader.

Additionally, his words blow apart the group’s half-hearted assertions that it is not a branch of military intelligence by another name, but simply a public organization fighting Russian disinformation.

Also on rt.com Integrity Initiative’s anti-Russia crusaders spread ‘the very definition of propaganda’...

“We have supported the creation of special Army reserve units (e.g. 77 Bde and SGMI – Specialist Group Military Intelligence) with which we now have a close, informal relationship,” the document says.

“These bring in, as reservists with a special status, individuals who are very senior civilian experts in some relevant area, such as Hedge Fund managers, senior bankers, Heads of PA companies, etc. I.e. people whom the Army could never afford to hire, but who donate their time and expertise as patriots.”

Elsewhere, Lafayeedney, who calls the Integrity Initiative not a “think tank” but a “do tank,” boasts that its work is “very sensitive as we feed it into the highest levels of MOD [Ministry of Defence] and the armed forces.”

Among the dozens of “patriots” listed in the leak are Ian Cohen, managing director at HSBC Global Asset Management, Phil Jolley, “executive partner at IBM and the UK national lead on ‘Blockchain’ technologies” and start-up adviser Ren Kapoor, MBE, whose mission within “the project” is “to provide advice and training to NGOs on budgeting, legal compliance and a range of issues with which they need to comply in order to remain legal and to survive financially.”

‘Investigating’ Russian funding recipients

A document called “Finding the money” outlines an apparent plan to “target” organizations in the West which were recipients of funding from Russia, even if they did not in any way break the law.

“If we can identify a likely target (eg a university with an anti-fracking agenda) they will run this as an academic exercise, an experiment. The behaviour of an organisation may help identify it as a suitable target to investigate. Universities can sometimes be very untransparent re their funding,” says the document, which apparently was formed from a discussion involving the aforementioned Ian Cohen, and Perry Fawcett, a prominent executive also on the “patriot” list.

“Money coming out of Russian corporations is likely to reach its destination through a blue chip company. Look at which Russian companies have shares in which UK companies. Also look at eg Russia buying the port in Herzogovina; the potential for it becoming a Naval base,” the document states.

The authors themselves appear to be wary of the ethical and legal implications of attacking legitimate institutions, as well as basing their work on little more than unauthorized sleuthing.

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“The biggest danger is making the answer fit the question, ie finding what you are looking for when it really isn’t there. Would damage our reputation,” the document reads, as if its very existence isn’t an indictment of the Integrity Initiative.

Straight-faced discussion of post-nuclear conflict with Russia

It is not inherently morally dubious to analyze possible conflict scenarios. But leaked minutes from what appears to be a high-powered “joint workshop” for the Institute for Statecraft (the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization, and the Center for Naval Analyses – the top Pentagon-affiliated military think tank) show a readiness to contemplate a possible full-scale nuclear war with Russia that would be hair-raising even for Cold War veterans.

One of the most alarming aspects is the apparent overstatement of Russia’s hostile intent within this bubble – believing that your enemy wants to destroy you justifies almost any action from your own side, and leads to a mutual escalation of mistrust.

Also on rt.com Senators propose change of doctrine so Russia could respond with nukes to any ‘strategic strike’...

“The reality of the Russian nuclear doctrine is that it will not back down. Especially after the amount Russia has invested, how much core Russian capital is tied into nuclear capabilities,” reads the assessment of Moscow’s nuclear policy, formulated in the aftermath of the Russian Zapad exercises in 2017, which provoked an outburst of fearmongering in the West.

“Where the West would eventually bring enough forces to push a Russian advance back [in case of a localized conflict], in that push. There would be an assessment, and the conclusion would be that regime change was in motion – It is widely believed, in that instance, they would resort to nuclear weapons.”

The most chilling part of the assessment is not just the apparent readiness to deploy the West's own weapons of mass destruction, but the logical jump to post-nuclear war combat.

“War games usually start with Russia about to, or using a nuclear weapon. We need to think about, what is Russia’s response after using a nuclear weapon,” it continues.

A saner voice might have replied that it may matter little, as by that point most people in Washington, London, and Moscow will already be dead. Are they really ready to contemplate mutual destruction for the sake of defeating the Kremlin?

‘Ignorant’ Muslims must be taught to ‘appreciate’ NATO

Here is the problem, as described by the author of a background paper from the Why NATO matters “educational” project.

“NATO’s involvement in Muslim majority countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, is interpreted by the vast majority of Muslims as NATO’s simply being hostile to Islam and Muslims per se,” says the author, partially putting such qualms down to “ignorance.”

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Instead, the author says, Muslims, particularly young representatives from the UK’s ethnic minorities, who are already considered “problematic,” should be taught about “NATO as an international intervention body that engages to prevent wars and conflicts and plays an important role in mediation and to bring lasting peace.”

The solution: cultivating influence with “community leaders and trusted youth workers” and sponsoring a series of supposedly open-ended workshops across the UK that discuss subjects from Sharia law to acceptable dress codes, but are in essence aimed at defusing the “tensions, fear, mistrust and hatred” of the military alliance. Chosen Muslim scholars and leaders are also to be brought out to the “safe space” of the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“People will be encouraged to talk to their friends and families about their understanding of NATO’s role in global conflicts, including humanitarian aid in natural disaster zones,” the author states.

The paper suggests that the influencing effort is already underway, but appeals for the creation of a “well-resourced programme” that will bring about “a long-term appreciation of NATO.”

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House passes bill preventing Trump from leaving NATO, tells allies to start pulling weight

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing the country from NATO, but called on European allies to pay their dues – just like Trump has demanded.

The bipartisan NATO Support Act was passed on Tuesday in a 357-22 vote that reiterated US commitment to the military bloc and included a provision that rejects any effort made by the president to withdraw from it, banning funding for such actions.

“It’s crazy that we have to be introducing this bill. But it is, unfortunately, both necessary and urgent,”said Rep. Tom Malinowski, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill. “I believe it’s necessary that I take the president of the United States seriously. President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for NATO and his willingness to consider leaving it.”

Also on rt.com Trump wants out of NATO: A gift to Russia, or a gift to Germany?...

On the campaign trail and during his presidency, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO, saying the organization allowed other members to take advantage of American generosity and enjoy protection it offers without sharing the burden. The US is by far the biggest contributor to the alliance in terms of finances and soldiers carrying out its missions.

Among other NATO allies, few meet the benchmark two percent of GDP that they are required to spend on defense, which is a commitment that all members made. On many occasions, Trump demanded that this slight was addressed.

The new bill makes the same demand, but Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who spearheaded the legislation, insists it is not like those made by the president.

“What we have to realize is that NATO is not just a transactional relationship,” he said, adding that the focus “can’t just be on who pays what and who gets what. Being a member of NATO is not like being a member of a country club.”

Also on rt.com Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War – ex-CIA head Petraeus...

In their statements on the bill, several lawmakers stressed NATO’s role in defending Europe from ‘aggression by Russia.’ This perceived threat has been used to justify an increased military presence of NATO troops close to Russia’s border and regular exercises on a scale unseen since the Cold War. Russia is responding with additional deployments of troops in the west of the country and exercises of its own.

NATO’s uncontrolled expansion eastwards, contrary to verbal assurances made to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, made Moscow increasingly suspicious of the West’s actions and caused it to spend a lot of resources modernizing its armed forces and boosting its nuclear deterrence over the past two decades.

This policy is now cited as the reason why NATO is necessary. Retired US four-star general David Petraeus recently called it “the greatest gift” the bloc could receive.

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Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

Russia successfully ‘breathed new life’ into NATO by giving it a reason to boost military expansion into Eastern Europe and strengthen the US foothold on the continent, ex-CIA boss, retired four-star general David Petraeus said.

Russia singlehandedly gave the American-led military bloc “a new reason for living,” the former general told the audience at an international conference in New Delhi, India on Wednesday.

Petraeus stressed that Moscow prompted the alliance to deploy more troops and aircraft into Eastern Europe and the Baltic States as well as set up new command HQs in the region.

Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

It was done under the pretext of fighting ‘Russian aggression’ as relations between NATO and Moscow steadily deteriorated during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. In that sense, Putin is “the greatest gift” NATO has received since the conclusion of the Cold War, the American general said.

He also ‘credited’ the Russian leader for providing the US with the rationale to return an armored brigade to Europe “for the first time in a number of years.” It is currently stationed in Poland.

The former CIA head told the audience that despite the occasional tensions between the US President Donald Trump and NATO, Washington remains the “backbone” of the alliance as its chief armed force and financial backer.

Also on rt.com ‘Obvious threat’: Russian officials warn Poland not to proceed with permanent US military base...

In recent years, the US and its allies have been boosting military might in Europe, citing the need to deter Moscow following the Ukrainian crisis and the accession of Crimea into Russia. This strategy led to the increase of the number of combat-ready troops and large-scale military drills near the nation’s borders.

The Kremlin, in turn, had been blasting NATO’s continued expansion eastward. Russian politicians said that the growing militarization of the region undermines European security and may lead to destabilization in the region.

Four-star General David Petraeus was considered to be one of the most influential military policy-makers in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Before being appointed the head of the CIA, he led the US Central Command.

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Syrian Army Enters Manbij as YPG Withdraws, Asks for Protection

Syria's state media reported the army has entered the city of Manbij, hours after the YPG urged the government to protect the city of a Turkish "invasion."

The Syrian army deployed forces to the city of Manbij in northwest Syria Friday, after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) retreated from the area and urged Damascus to protect the town from the threat of a Turkish “invasion.”

RELATED: Turkish Forces Bound for Kurdish-Held Territory in Syria

According to state media SANA, Syrian forces raised the national flag in Manbij, while authorities expressed their commitment to guarantee “security for all Syrian citizens and others in the area.”

The announcement was made hours after YPG forces “invited” the Syrian government to assert control over the territory that lies only 30 kilometers away from the border with Turkey.

“We invite the Syrian government forces to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion,” the YPG said via Twitter.

Russia has welcomed the move.

"Of course, this will help in stabilizing the situation. The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces ... is, without doubt, a positive trend," Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said.

With the YPG at its forefront, the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF) seized Manbij in 2016 from Islamic State, a milestone in the battle against the group.

United States President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria has alarmed the Kurdish-led fighters who played a crucial role in fighting the Islamic State group. U.S. military support for the Kurdish fighters has infuriated Turkey, a fellow member of the  North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO alliance, which sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) movement that has sought greater political autonomy within Turkey for decades.

RELATED: Syrian Anti-Aircraft Defense Repels Israeli Missiles

Turkey, which deems the YPG a threat to its own territory and has vowed to crush it. In mid-December, Turkey threatened a military operation against Manbij to remove the YPG. Turkey and its allied fighters have been amassing troops around the city in recent days.

A Turkish-backed rebel official, Major Youssef Hammoud, said the plan to attack SDF territory remained in force. "There is no Syrian soldier inside Manbij town from the regime's forces." He said his forces were waiting for Washington and Ankara to agree on how U.S. forces would leave Manbij.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan said Turkey will have no reason to be in Manbij if the "zone is purged of terrorist organizations." Erodgan also said during the same press conference that reports of Syrian troops in Manjib were unconfirmed by Turkey’s intelligence. “There is nothing certain,” he said.

Russian and Turkish authorities will discuss and evaluate the situation in Syria during a meeting in Moscow, scheduled for Saturday.

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmed, reportedly told the Associated Press that government troops have arrived but have not entered the city. According to her, Turkey-backed fighters have not withdrawn from Manbij. Ahmen added that an agreement is being worked out between the Russian and Syrian governments to allow Syrian to take over if the U.S. follows through with the announced withdrawal, for which there is no set timeline.

"The aim is to ward off a Turkish offensive," she said. "If the Turks' excuse is the (Kurdish fighters), they will leave their posts to the government."

Bashar al-Assad's government has said it welcomes the Kurdish group returning under the central government’s authority but it has also warned they will not consider the possibility of a Kurdish autonomous area.

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