Judy Dempsey – Russia is Losing Germany


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By Judy Dempsey, Strategic Europe, August 21, 2014

A three-page letter that was sent to German parliamentarians on August 18 makes sober reading.

Ostensibly, the letter is about how Europe’s sanctions against Russia and vice versa might affect the German economy. But the real message that Sigmar Gabriel, Social Democrat leader and minister for economic affairs and energy, Wolfgang Schäuble, federal minister of finance, and Christian Schmidt, food and agriculture minister, want to get across is that Germany’s special relationship with Russia is all but over… (more)




Daily Beast- Putin’s Sleight-of-Hand Invasion



Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast

MOSCOW — On Thursday night a caravan of about 270 Russian military trucks, all freshly painted white, parked in a field outside the small town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the Ukrainian border. But long after dark, according to a report by a correspondent for The Guardian who happened on the scene, 23 Russian armored personnel carriers crossed through a gap in the barbed wire fence onto a dirt track in an area no longer guarded by Ukrainian troops… (More)


Is Putin this century’s Hitler?


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Questionable constitutional changes to gain and retain power, using armed thugs to suppress opposition and critical press, using hate speech against a minority group to divert attention from national problems, and now invading a neighboring sovereign nation to “protect” citizens who claim ethnic ties to his country from their own government – Vladimir Putin has often been compared to Adolf Hitler.

With his current occupation of sovereign Ukraine territory in the Crimean and his likely expansion into the the rest of eastern Ukraine, Putin is inviting more comparisons. Will his own people begin to se him that way? Or will they continue to support him, or at least tolerate him, while he takes pages from the playbook of their most hated enemy of all time?

Is Putin this century’s Hitler?

Here are a couple of recent articles.



NATO standards in former Warsaw Pact countries


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map of NATO members

map of NATO members (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By The Baltic Times, Oct 19, 2013

Former Warsaw Pact countries are steadily adopting NATO standards despite fiscal and industrial constraints, reports news agency Stratfor

NATO standardization is important for both new and old members of NATO for two key reasons. Operationally, NATO forces benefit from having interchangeable infrastructure and a network of supplies and logistics, from small arms ammunition to lighting systems. Utilizing the same communication and procedural doctrine means NATO members can better operate together, whether calling in naval gunfire support or interrogating prisoners of war.

Strategically, NATO standardization enables member states to deploy together in missions such as Operation Odyssey Dawn (the intervention in Libya) while minimizing the challenges that usually accompany multilateral campaigns. This serves to bring the alliance closer through consistent combined service and training…(more)

300 Lithuanian troops to take part in NATO exercises in Poland and Baltics


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English: Emblem of the . Deutsch: Wappen der N...

Emblem of the NATO Response Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Lithuania Tribune, October 4, 2013

300 Lithuanian troops will take part in the so-called Chapter 5 exercises in Poland and the Baltic States, designed to test preparedness of the NATO Response Force to respond to an international crisis…

…The Steadfast Jazz 2013 exercises will involve about 6,000 personnel from 20 NATO member countries and partner nation Ukraine. During the event, 3,000 staff personnel from Joint Force Command Brunssum and other allied joint staffs will take part in a command and control exercise at the Adazi Base, Latvia. In addition, 3,000 troops will be involved in a live exercise at Poland’s Drawsko Pomorskie Training area…(more)

Zapad 13 – Observations and perspective


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English: Zapad-2009 military exercises. Русски...

Zapad-2009 military exercises. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Karlis Neretnieks (Ret MG, Swedish Army) , Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences, October 14, 2013

Russia´s military capabilities are rising fast. The exercise Zapad 2013 clearly shows that the Russian Armed Forces have left the deplorable state they were in some ten years ago, and that the lessons learned from the Georgia conflict in 2008 are being implemented. The new command structure with Strategic Commands and leaner tactical units is being tested. It is not yet perfect, but Zapad 2013 will give valuable lessons…

…Altogether we see a rapidly increasing Russian capability to mount large scale, complex, military operations in its neighbourhood, coordinated with operations in other areas. It would be a mistake to see this just a problem for the Baltic States. It should have implications for most of Russia´s neighbours, and also for other parties interested in the security and stability in the Baltic Sea region…(more)

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Russian Commandos Train for Arctic Combat


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Arctic region CIA

Arctic region (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

StratRisks (Source: RIA), October 14, 2013   Russian army special forces units have had their first training sessions in Arctic warfare, under plans to boost the country’s military presence in the region, a Western Military District spokesman said Monday.   According to Col. Oleg Kochetkov, Russian special forces reconnaissance units have carried out a number of training missions on the Kola Peninsula under an experimental program simulating combat in the polar regions’ mountainous terrain…

…According to the Russian military, two arctic brigades will be deployed in Russia’s extreme north over the next few years. Russia also plans to return to mothballed Soviet-era… (more)

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Commentary: NATO and a New Agenda for the Arctic


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Artificially coloured topographical map of the...

Artificially coloured topographical map of the Arctic region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Alexander Shaparov, European Dialogue, October 14, 2013

The Arctic region is turning into an area of protracted geopolitical rivalry. This rivalry will not necessarily be expressed in any military confrontation, but rather will take the form of economic, technological and political competition. In this context, the states involved will be ever less prepared to opt for compromise in upholding their national interests within international organizations. NATO’s increasing activity in the Arctic will lead to transfiguration in relations in the area of international security, with new challenges and opportunities emerging for Russia.

The Arctic is becoming a new area of NATO’s influence, an area where security is closely associated with crucially important interests of its member states… (more)

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Zapad 2013: the Belarusian and Russian armies’ anti-NATO integration exercises


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Russian Army T-90A during a training exercise.

Russian Army T-90A during a training exercise. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Andrzej Wilk, Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW), Sept. 25, 2013

On 20-26 September, the active (military) phase of the strategic-level exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus, entitled ‘West 2013’, were held. This was the largest joint exercise both armies had ever carried out; including the ranges in the western part of Belarus, Kaliningrad and the Baltic Sea, over 22,000 soldiers took part in it. For the Russian army, ‘West 2013’ did not constitute a particular challenge, coming as it did as part of the larger series of exercises arranged in parallel in the Murmansk oblast and the Barents Sea. For the Belarusian army, however, this year’s joint exercises are the biggest undertaking in military training it has carried out for two decades. Above all, ‘West 2013’ was a test of the integration of the Belarusian and Russian armies, and particularly of the former’s ability to act within the norms and structures of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

The scenario and nature of the ‘West 2013’ exercises leave no doubt that the Russian/Belarusian forces are training to conduct regular military operations, and their potential opponent is the NATO countries bordering with Russia and Belarus. In political terms, however, we can observe a certain duality in Russia’s approach to NATO. On the one hand – thanks to the information about the exercises reported in media – we see that Moscow is aiming to provoke a negative reaction from its western neighbours. But on the other – from its joint non-military exercises (the ‘Vigilant Sky 2013’ anti-terrorist exercises held in parallel with ‘West 2013’) – it has tried to allay NATO’s concerns regarding the objectives of Russia’s military policy towards Europe… (more)

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Commentary: Can Ukraine Shed Its Soviet Skin?


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The European Union and Ukraine

The European Union and Ukraine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Adam Reichardt, The National Interest, Sept. 26, 2013

It is hard to believe that the election and events that set into motion Ukraine’s Orange Revolution took place nearly nine years ago. The scenes of young Ukrainians camping out on Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), demanding that their voice be heard and the will of the people not be ignored, was a moment which many believed was not only an awakening for Ukraine, but also a significant change in the whole of the former Soviet Union. One of the largest of the former Soviet states (excluding Russia) had finally begun to make its first strides towards Europe.

The energy and hope that arose out of the Orange Revolution was one of the main drivers behind a movement to bring a final end to the already tattered Iron Curtain. This initiative, which was launched in 2009 under the leadership of Sweden and Poland, became known as the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The goal was to create conditions that would enable greater political association and further economic integration between the European Union and the partnership countries. The belief then was that this project would speed up democratic, economic, institutional and civil-society reforms to bring these states closer to Europe. Membership in the Eastern Partnership was opened to the remaining “European” states that were once members of the Soviet Union—Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia further emphasized the need to create a stronger engagement with these countries, especially if they have aspirations to join the European community…

…The biggest Elephant in the East remains Ukraine, the largest of these countries. For both Europe and Russia, Ukraine is still considered to be the big prize. With a population of over forty-five million people (more than its western neighbor Poland) Ukraine’s potential as a consumer society is quite large. Opening up European markets to Ukraine and vice versa could be potentially a game-changer in the Eastern European region. A large section of Ukraine’s population is Russian-speaking, which can be advantageous to European companies who want to eventually do more business in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union… (more)