Despite an attempt by Western media outlets to present the recently captured individuals in eastern Ukraine as OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers, evidence has now emerged demonstrating yet again that the presentation provided by these outlets is actually quite far from the truth.
Indeed, those men captured by pro-Russian militias in East Ukraine are not OSCE observers at all, but were sent to Ukraine by NATO countries and OSCE member nations under the auspices of the Vienna Document on military transparency. This group included no OSCE monitors whatsoever.
In a recent essay, Justin Logan asks the fundamental question about U.S. alliance commitments: does the existence of such commitments automatically create an interest worth going to war over for the United States?
Explaining that no one in Washington sees any interest in going to war against Russia over the current crisis in Ukraine, Logan wonders whether the United States should contemplate doing so for countries where it has even smaller interests, such as the Baltic states, only because they, unlike Ukraine, are U.S. allies under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He argues that Washington would be misguided to waste blood and treasure just to honor what he refers to as a “sheet of paper,” and warns against the danger of forging alliances in places where there is no interest that warrants war.
A notorious British protest movement called The English Defense League has declared war on radical Islam, a battle they are taking to the streets in rowdy, often violent protests.
Their founder, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, goes by the alias, “Tommy Robinson.” He claims that his group is not anti-Muslim, but several of his followers have been connected to hate attacks like mosque bombings.
The Obama administration may be acting as if its rift with Russia won’t affect the attempt to broker a nuclear deal with Iran. It can hope against hope that Russia will forget its quarrel with the Americans and maintain solidarity with the U.S. and the European Union in the Iran talks and continue as if nothing has changed. But there’s little doubt that the open hostility between Washington and Moscow has reduced the already slim chances for a satisfactory P5+1 agreement with Iran. Since the diplomatic option that the president has defended so vigorously in recent months depends entirely on Russian cooperation including the enforcement of sanctions that Putin never really supported, the aftermath of the Crimea conflict has left the administration with little diplomatic leverage.
In a SPIEGEL interview, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, 51, argues Moscow is more vulnerable than many think, and that the EU should take a firmer stand against Russia in the Ukraine conflict.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski:
“The Ukrainians are our neighbors. They are
fighting for the same things we did back in 1989.”
SPIEGEL: You are viewed as being a proponent of taking a harder line against Russia. What are you calling for?
Sikorski: I have always supported working together with Russia when it is possible and when it serves the interests of both sides. But what we are dealing with right now is an attempt to change borders with the use of force. A course of action like that demands a clear response.
SPIEGEL: The European Union imposed very mild sanctions against Russia on Thursday. Isn’t it true that Putin, with his gas exports, has far more effective means for countering that pressure?
Sikorski: Only about 30 percent of the natural gas in the EU originates from Russia. Norway is a larger supplier. I do not believe Russia can use it to put us under pressure. Moscow needs our money.
SPIEGEL: Do you feel that Europe is making a weak impression in this crisis? While EU leaders continued to discuss the issue in Brussels, Washington was already imposing stronger sanctions.
Sikorski: The Americans have done even more — by relocating F-15 and F-16 jets to Eastern Europe, for example. In contrast to Europe, the US has a centralized government. We should learn from the current crisis that European integration must also continue when it comes to security policy.
SPIEGEL: Are you disappointed in the European Union?
Sikorski: The same thing applies to the Union as to the Vatican: God’s mills grind slowly but surely. We have made mistakes. For example, when the negotiations over an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU were completed in December 2010, the lawyers and translators in Brussels took an entire year to work out the text. If both sides had signed faster at the time, Ukraine would be more closely connected with Europe for a long time now. Nor did we foresee at all what an irresponsible man President Yanukovych would prove to be – and that an even worse massacre could have potentially taken place on the Maidan (Independence Square). It was only our joint mediation initiative between Germany, France and Poland that prevented that from happening. Read More Here: ‘Moscow Needs Our Money’
Russia’s occupation of Crimea has violated international law and created a new crisis among world leaders. Now the EU and the US are fighting over the best means to address Russia’s reawakened expansionary ambitions.
Everything in Simferopol, the capital of the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea, has suddenly changed. Shortly after noon on Thursday of last week, Cossacks from Russia sealed off the Crimean parliament building. The Russians, who had identified themselves as tourists a short time earlier, claimed that they were there to “check identification papers.” Now Russia’s white, blue and red flag flies above the building.
Two men accompany us as we walk up the steps to meet with the new premier of Crimea, who has taken over the office in a Moscow-backed coup. Under his leadership and with instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Crimean lawmakers have just voted to join the Russian Federation. Their decision is to be sealed with a referendum scheduled for Sunday, March 16.
Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, 41, a former businessman with a highly dubious reputation, tries to make a serious impression, but so far, he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to shed his reputation as an underworld figure nicknamed “Goblin.” Despite the Russian flag on display in the reception room, Aksyonov insists that rumors that he was installed by the Kremlin are nothing but lies. “The people here asked me to do it,” he says. But he knows that neither Kiev nor the West will accept the annexation of Crimea. “No one dictates anything to us,” he insists. Read More Here: Russia’s Imperial Mess