Russia Warns NATO Against Provoking Third World War

Members of the NATO-Russia Council have only met three times in the last two years and when they have, NATO focuses strictly on Ukraine.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to avoid taking steps that may lead to a third World War.

RELATED: Lavrov: US Trying to Establish Mini-State in Syria

Lavrov was unequivocal about the prospects of war, “I believe everyone will be wise enough to prevent that. However, we are certainly very much concerned about the total absence of any professional dialogue between the Russian military and NATO.”

Members of the NATO-Russia Council have only met three times in the last two years and when they have, NATO focuses strictly on Ukraine and “attempts were made to use the NATO-Russia Council as another tool to blame all mortal sins on us, and another way of satisfying the whims of our Ukrainian neighbors who dream of sanctions being endlessly perpetuated and want nothing more than Russia to always be subject to intense criticisms.”

United States' influence over NATO is a factor that Russia considers to be a determinant in the organization’s behavior. “So, look at this situation. I believe it is absurd to remain hostage to US legislator’s whims,” the minister added.

Lavrov's statement comes at a time when there have been military accidents in the region — such as the accidental shooting of a missile by a Spanish fighter jet in Estonia due to NATO activities — in addition to NATO member countries' intention to hold naval drills in the Sea of Azov bordering Russia’s eastern coast, which according to Lavrov, would require the Federation’s permission.

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the United States is making the colossal mistake of countries that treat themselves as "empires," by imposing sanctions on countries around the world.

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Bombing to protect? RT documentary looks at reality of NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia (VIDEO)

NATO's Secretary General has boldly defended the alliance’s 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia as an act of humanitarianism, despite the dubious motives and devastating aftermath. RT took a more thorough look at the conflict.

Jens Stoltenberg told a group of students from Belgrade University that NATO bombed their country to “protect civilians and to stop the Milosevic regime,” adding that many Serbs have an incomplete picture of the bombing campaign.

But the truth may be a bit more complicated – and less flattering.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the bombing campaign, in 2014 two RT journalists – Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic – travelled across the former Yugoslavia and met with people who survived the 3-month bombing. In the process, they revealed the very different ways in which the war was portrayed – and perceived – in Serbia and abroad.

ЗАШТО? WHY? Revisiting NATO atrocities in Yugoslavia after 15 yrs (Part 1)

ЗАШТО? WHY? Revisiting NATO atrocities in Yugoslavia after 15 yrs (Part 2)

In contrast to Stoltenberg’s rosy description of the bombing campaign, Naouai and Milincic’s resulting documentary about their journey, ЗАШТО? (Why?), presents the unsettling truths about a 78-day bombardment that left hundreds of civilians dead.

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Skripal poisoning: No info in records about decorated colonel Chepiga, says Kremlin

Russian records have neither information about a Colonel Anatoly Chepiga nor about such a person being awarded the highest national merit, said a Kremlin spokesman. A report by Bellingcat said the man is a Skripal case suspect.

Bellingcat is a controvercial UK-based group which is connected to projects financed by NATO and known mostly for compiling various public data to back various accusations against Russia.

The group this week said they conclusively identified Ruslan Bosharov, one of the two men accused in Britain of poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal in March, as Anatoly Chepiga, a commando colonel, who has the merit of ‘Hero of Russia’ among his decorations. According to the Kremlin, there are no records of a person with that name receiving the award.

“We have checked. I have no information about a man with that name being awarded,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The merit is usually awarded during a ceremony by the President of Russia. Bellingcat argued that Vladimir Putin must know Chepiga personally and that implied that his vouching for Boshirov and his fellow suspect Aleksandr Petrov was done in bad faith. Putin made public assurances that the two men were civilians and had nothing to do with any criminal activity.

 
  Composition of photos of an Anatoly Chepiga and Ruslan Boshirov by Bellingcat.

 

Speaking about the case on Friday, Peskov said Russia was tired of the unending media speculations about the case and was calling on Britain to cooperate with Russia on the investigation through proper channels.

“All those speculations about who resembles whom. You know, we have a dozen of Stalins and 15 Lenins running around the Red Square, and each of them looks a lot like the original,” he said.

Bellingcat’s identification relies on what it called a resemblance between an old photo of Chepiga and a younger Borshirov. The group used the strategy to pinpoint Chepiga by creating a profile of a would-be assassin and finding a person in Russia to fit it.

From the start of the investigation Britain insisted that the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in March was a state-ordered chemical weapons attack by Russia. London claimed it had evidence which identified Boshirov and Petrov as agents of Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, but would not disclose it to the public.

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Evo Morales Rejects Militarization of Bolivia-Argentina Border

On August 17, the Argentine Government set up a military base in the border city of La Quiaca, near Bolivia, framed in the plan for a reform of the Armed Forces.

On Thursday, Bolivian President Evo Morales rejected the militarization of the Bolivia-Argentina border that President Mauricio Macri has ordered. The Bolivian president said that the Argentine Government seeks to intimidate and frighten the Bolivian people, but noted that this action does not scare them.

RELATED: Bolivia's Evo Morales: 'The US Is An Interventionist State'

Morales said that Argentina's move aims to rattle Bolivia. "They will try to scare us; We are not going to be scared, we are a united people, with social forces. They will try to intimidate us, they will not be able to," he said during a Public event in Chuquisaca, Bolivia.

The president said that he does "not agree with what Argentina did these last days, militarize the border with Bolivia, in La Quiaca, in front of Villazon." 

On August 17, the Argentine Government set up a military base in the border city of La Quiaca, near Bolivia, framed in the plan for a reform of the Armed Forces which is promoted by the country's executive to carry out internal security tasks. However, the Argentine Ambassador to Bolivia, Normando Alvarez, confirmed that an Argentinian military base will be installed in Abra Pampa, Jujuy Province, 70 kilometers away from the border with Bolivia.

Social and other media reports claimed that the United States had planned to open a military base in Argentina, near the border with Bolivia, in order to fight against drug-trafficking and terrorism. But, the Argentinian Government has denied the allegation.

"No, they are inventions; why do we need the United States military if we have professional military forces that can calmly develop their task," the ambassador remarked.

"NATO and U.S. military bases are synonymous with theft, synonymous with looting, confrontation, war. We have profound differences with the capitalist system, with North American imperialism, but for that we need unity. If we are united nothing is going to stop our process of change," Bolivian President Morales commented.

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Insults, demands & advice: Trump’s whirlwind European tour causes stir online

On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.

Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

Trump vs Germany

The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.

@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany.

@mtracey The funny part is Trump has taken far more consequential actions that are averse to Russia's interests (expelling diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine, approving sanctions, repeatedly bombing their client state) than Germany's, but listen to US media you'd assume the exact opposite

While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight

@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.

One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dh_Ua5QXkAc4DNt.jpg

He said, no one else said

If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.

The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.

Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate. 

READ MORE: Trump warns NATO allies US can ‘do our own thing’ if 2% spending goal not met – reports

In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.

Trump does Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.

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European Leaders Vow Tougher Action On Chemical Weapons, Spying

Brussels: EU leaders on Friday pledged to crack down harder on chemical weapons and step up efforts to combat spying, as Europe frets about threats from Russia.

Three months after a nerve agent attack in the British city of Salisbury, blamed on Russia, united the EU in condemnation of Moscow, the bloc's leaders said they wanted new measures to stop the spread of chemical weapons.

A summit of EU leaders in Brussels called for "the adoption as soon as possible of a new EU regime of restrictive measures to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons".

The call came a day after the international community voted to beef up the powers of the world chemical weapons watchdog, allowing it to name those responsible for toxic arms attacks in Syria.

The Salisbury attack, along with repeated gas attacks in Syria's bloody civil war and the assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un's half brother using VX nerve agent in Malaysia, have led to fears that the century-old taboo against chemical weapons was being eroded.

The European Commission, the EU's powerful executive arm, said Wednesday's decision to boost the powers of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was a "crucial step towards preserving and upholding the global norm against the use of chemical weapons".

And with European nations increasingly anxious about Russian interference in elections across the continent, the summit tasked the commission with coming up with "a coordinated EU response to the challenge of disinformation".

Leaders also urged EU countries to cooperate more closely and in consultation with NATO, to combat the threat from "hostile intelligence activities".

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NATO was never a defensive alliance, and its behavior since 1991 shows it

Throughout the Cold War, NATO was advertised as a defensive alliance. That was not really the case then, and certainly hasn’t been since, with NATO engaging in interventions and regime change from Bosnia to Libya.

Though the alliance’s founding document was signed in April 1949, it wasn’t until a year later that the foreign ministers of the 12 member countries sat down in London to give shape to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On May 18, 1950, led by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, they signed a communique establishing the permanent structures of NATO.

“This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out,” British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin said after the meeting.

How much NATO was really into “building peace” became clear in 1954, after the death of Stalin, when the Soviet Union’s new leader Nikita Khrushchev asked to join the alliance. Not only did NATO say no, the alliance invited West Germany to join. The date chosen for the occasion was symbolic: May 9, the tenth anniversary of Nazi capitulation in the Second World War.

@starsandstripes Security experts say Germany's military is virtually undeployable. For example, none of its submarines are operational and only four of its 128 Eurofighter jets are combat-ready. https://www.stripes.com/news/as-germany-prepares-for-nato-crisis-response-role-its-military-readiness-is-abysmal-1.527253 

The USSR saw this as an open provocation, and responded by establishing the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, also known as the Warsaw Pact.

After the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, NATO not only remained in existence but expanded its membership and mission, usurping the role of the UN by openly intervening in Yugoslavia. The alliance’s first military action was in Bosnia (1994-95), followed by an all-out war against the remnant Yugoslavia (1999) and the subsequent occupation of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

 
© Reuters

NATO has also taken part in the US war in Afghanistan since 2001. The alliance did not officially join the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq, though many members chose to join George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing.”

The most overt NATO military action since 1999 was the 2011 intervention in Libya. It unfolded in much the same fashion as the mission creep in Bosnia, only much faster. Within hours of the UN Security Council authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya on March 19, the US, France, UK and Canada began airstrikes.

NATO officially took over the war on March 31, flying 26,500 sorties during Operation Unified Protector until the death of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in October.

Drive to the East

Though US Secretary of State James Baker assured the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “not one inch eastward” if Germany reunified, the alliance did just that. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were officially admitted into NATO even as alliance warplanes were bombing Yugoslavia in April 1999.

Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia joined in 2002. The last former Warsaw Pact country, Albania, joined in 2009. The alliance has also expanded to include the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, bringing NATO to Russia’s doorstep.

As if that wasn’t enough, NATO pushed further, into Georgia and Ukraine. Believing NATO had his back, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili attacked Russian peacekeepers in the disputed region of South Ossetia in 2008. His NATO-trained military was disarmed in six days. NATO has continued to flirt with Georgia since, though the current government in Tbilisi doesn’t appear eager for another war with Russia.

@NATO_MARCO Four NATO ships conducting a port call in Poti, Georgia  https://civil.ge/archives/241621

The phantom menace

The most recent escalation of tensions with Russia began in 2014, after the US-backed regime that took over Ukraine in a February 2014 coup. Alliance troops have since set up bases in the far west of the country, and have been providing weapons, supplies and training to Kiev’s military and neo-Nazi militias to “counter Russian aggression.”

Under the guise of “deterring Russia,” NATO has also established permanent military bases in the Baltic States, Romania and Poland, and conducted a series of massive military drills right on the Russian border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has condemned the troop buildup, saying in February that Washington is using an “imaginary Russian threat” to ensure its dominance in Europe.

The alliance’s first secretary general (1952-57), Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, reportedly once said NATO’s purpose was to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.”

NATO’s behavior since the 1990s shows not only that it has become an aggressive, expansionist body, but one serving the foreign policy priorities of the US first and foremost. With Europe now contemplating breaking from Washington over Iran, its leaders would do well to keep Ismay’s words in mind.

@Ruptly Tusk on Trump: 'friends like that, who needs enemies?'

 
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NATO crossed ‘red line’ with military build-up around Russian borders – envoy to NATO

NATO has crossed a line with its “unjustified” military build-up on Russia’s doorstep, Russian envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko has warned. He added that global security cannot be ensured without Russia.

 
A US soldier walks to the welcoming ceremony for US-led NATO troops at polygon near Orzysz, Poland on 13 Apr. 2017 © Kacper Pempel / Reuters

Relations with states neighboring Russia never developed “military dimensions” despite strained relations with some of them, including with the Baltic states, Grushko said. But the situation has now changed, thanks to the military bloc, he told a discussion panel at the Valdai Club on Tuesday.

“Now, thanks to NATO, we have a military dimension, it was their choice, they crossed the red line,” Grushko said.

While the West has been trying hard to isolate Russia and fuel anti-Russian hysteria, international security is the only thing that suffers from this approach, according to Grushko. Any NATO and EU attempts to create “isolated safe havens” are doomed to failure, the diplomat said, as the creation of solid security systems cannot succeed without Russia.

The situation on Russia’s doorstep is also reminiscent of “Cold War schemes,” which should already have been buried as they were proven to be inefficient. However, if the alliance turns its back on Russia, it will only harm its own security, the Russian official added.

“If they do not want dialogue, then there won’t be any. It takes two to tango, as you know, it will be a conscious choice of the alliance,” Grushko said.

In the wake of international hysteria over the Skripal case and following the mass expulsions of Russian diplomats from a range of countries, NATO cut the permanent size of the Russian mission from a maximum of 30 to 20. Grushko stressed that the alliance is damaging itself with such moves, as it merely decreased the already reduced level of bilateral cooperation.

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