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50,000 NATO troops stage MASSIVE military drills on Russia’s border (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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NATO military drills, dubbed Trident Juncture 2018, are currently taking place in Norway.

The military war game involves approximately 50,000 troops from 31 countries, 10,000 combat vehicles, 65 ships and 250 aircraft, all of which make up the the largest such exercise hosted by Norway since the 1980s and the largest military drill NATO has held in decades.

Trident Juncture 2018 started last week and will run until November 7.

RT reports that the NATO military exercise is supposedly intended to send “a clear message” to both the alliance’s member states and potential “adversaries” that NATO is “ready to defend all allies against any threat,” its secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week.

The massive drills come shortly after Vostok-2018 exercise in Russia’s Far East was held in September. NATO bigwigs eagerly seized on the large-scale military maneuvers as proof of Moscow’s “aggressive” stance.

“Vostok demonstrates Russia’s focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we’ve seen over some time – a more assertive Russia significantly increasing its defense budget and its military presence,” NATO’s spokesman Dylan White said at the time.

While Vostok 2018 indeed showed Russia’s “military presence” – on its own territory – the official somehow missed the fact that Moscow has been actually steadily decreasing its military spending over the past few years.

Not everyone seems to be convinced by NATO’s rhetoric about the “defensive” nature of its exercises – and it’s not just Russia’s Defense Ministry. Trident Juncture 2018 was greeted in Oslo by protesters, who argued that such activities effectively turn Norway into a target and not contribute to country’s safety by any means.

“The Trident Juncture I think is a very unnecessary provocation towards Russia, although they say it’s not meant to be, but I think that’s what it is,” one of the protesters told RT’s Ruptly agency.

On Saturday, protesters marched through the city, carrying banners reading “Stop NATO’s war exercises in Norway,” “Stop Trident Juncture, stop provocation,” “NATO – North American Terror Organisation.”

“We are here protesting against Trident Juncture. Because we think that this Trident Juncture makes Norway less safe and our participations in NATO and their wars also make Norway less safe. We also want to pull Norway out of NATO,” another protester said.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018.

Why Norway? How will Russia react? What are the chances that such brazen military exercises on Russia’s border lead the world closer towards real conflict?

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Meanwhile Russia Matters, tries to explain NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018, as another act of self defense against Russia’s continued, hostile movement towards NATO’s borders.

This week, NATO forces are engaged in the largest military exercise the alliance has organized since the end of the Cold War and the first major Western exercise in decades to take place in the Arctic region. To be held in Norway through Nov. 23, the Trident Juncture exercise is designed to improve NATO’s ability to defend member states and to strengthen the alliance’s credibility as a deterrent force against potential aggression. While the scenario does not mention any particular adversaries, the exercise is clearly aimed at bolstering NATO defenses against Russia in the Nordic region. While the political impact will be minor by comparison to any potential permanent troop deployments, the military lessons gleaned by the exercise’s participants promise to be significant.The exercise marks NATO’s third time holding the biennial Trident Juncture and differs from the previous two iterations in both size and focus. To begin with, it involves personnel from all 29 NATO members—a first—plus close partners Finland and Sweden. This in itself is significant: While the two Nordic states have regularly participated in NATO exercises in recent years and have invited NATO forces to take part in exercises on their soil, their participation in as large and politically prominent an Article 5 exercise as Trident Juncture highlights how far both have gone since their political decisions to enhance defense cooperation with NATO. The 2018 exercise is not only much bigger than the 2014 and 2016 iterations, which also focused on preparing NATO’s rapid reaction forces to counter Russian aggression, but differs significantly in its primary focus on field exercises instead of command post exercises.There are 50,000 total participants, including 20,000 from the ground forces, 24,000 from naval and marine infantry forces, 3,000 from air forces, 1000 logistics specialists and 1300 command personnel.  The United States has provided the largest contingent, including the Harry Truman Carrier Strike Group, the Iwo Jima Marine Expeditionary Strike Group and over 18,000 troops. Preparations, including deployment of forces to the exercise area, began in August. The active phase of the field exercise began on Oct. 25 and will continue through Nov. 7, to be followed by a command post exercise in mid-November.The exercise scenario simulates the defense of an Arctic country from an amphibious assault on its coastline. The country under attack invokes Article 5 of the NATO treaty, resulting in a large-scale defensive effort by the alliance to protect the country from foreign invasion. The specifics involve two forces fighting each other, with one side initially defending against a combined forces attack that includes amphibious forces from the U.S. Marine Corps. In the second half of the exercise, the defending force gains the initiative and carries out a counter-attack.

Training to Defend the North Against Russia

The overarching goals of the exercise are to “demonstrate the credibility of its [NATO’s] military deterrent and the unity of its membership.” The second goal can be achieved simply by getting all of the member states to participate in a tangible way despite political tensions and disagreements on how firmly the Western alliance should confront Russia. To achieve the first goal, the exercise will focus on logistics, interoperability and the forces’ ability to engage in combat in a hostile physical environment. The speed with which NATO’s rapid-response forces can mobilize will be tested, as will the ability of troops and commanders from different countries with different military cultures and different languages to communicate with each other in combat. The logistics of moving troops across borders, something that has posed problems in the past in Europe, is also being tested. Many of the units involved are inexperienced with operations in cold and wet weather, poor visibility and, for naval and amphibious forces, rough seas—all conditions that characterize the Arctic at this time of year. The ultimate target is the so-called Four 30s Plan: for NATO to be able to deploy 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat ships to a conflict zone, and to do it in 30 days.

For the United States, the deployment of the Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its strike group to the Norwegian Sea is meant to highlight how seriously Washington takes the Russian threat in the north. This is the first time an aircraft carrier has entered the Norwegian Sea since the end of the Cold War. The deployment of a Marine Corps expeditionary strike group also indicates U.S. intent to defend the region and thus acts as a deterrence signal to Russia and follows the rotational deployment of 300 U.S. Marines since 2017, the first time a foreign force has been stationed on Norwegian soil since World War II.

Russia’s Reaction

The exercise scenario largely parallels those of standard major Russian exercises, such as Zapad-2017, where one force initially defends against an attack by an adversary before eventually turning the tide and practicing counter-offensive operations during the second half of the exercise period. There are other parallels as well, including an amphibious landing and an emphasis on combined operations, though NATO is not going to simulate a nuclear strike as Russia did in Zapad-2009. The one major difference is that in Trident Juncture the participating troops are divided into red and blue forces, unlike in Zapad-2017 where the Russian force fought against simulated opponents. In this regard, the exercise is more like Russia’s Vostok-2018 exercise, where forces from two Russian military districts were arrayed against each other.

While Russia’s overall reaction to Trident Juncture has been relatively mild, its officials have raised concerns about the exercise being part of an ongoing NATO effort to encircle Russia and to demonstrate its dominance over Russia in the Nordic region. They highlight that no state other than Russia could present a threat to NATO in the region, and that therefore no other country could be its target. They also condemn the militarization of the Arctic that this exercise represents. Russian officials, including the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, have cast the arrival of a U.S. aircraft carrier north of the Arctic Circle for the first time in 30 years as saber-rattling by the United States that could have long-lasting destabilizing effects in the region.

Beyond the propaganda effort to paint NATO and the United States as warmongers, the aspects of the exercise that Russian military planners take most seriously include the deployments of the U.S. carrier strike group and Marine expeditionary force to the Arctic, and the combined air operations involving NATO, Swedish and Finnish air forces. Russian leaders are concerned that the increased focus on reinforcing NATO defenses in the east, as demonstrated by the exercise itself, the obvious increase in NATO’s military cooperation with Sweden and Finland and ongoing discussions about permanent stationing of U.S. military forces in Eastern Europe, will result in the establishment of a U.S. base on Polish territory. Russian officials have repeatedly stated that they would regard Poland’s plans to host a U.S. Army division as a violation of commitments made under the NATO-Russia Founding Act that would result in Russian countermeasures aimed at neutralizing those forces in the event of a conflict. In other words, Russia is making the argument that the United States and its East European allies are leading Europe into a new arms race and will bear primary responsibility for the resultant increase in tensions. NATO officials briefed their Russian counterparts on the plan for the exercise at the Oct. 31 meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which also covered the conflict in Ukraine, the status of the INF Treaty and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Russian navy is planning to test missiles in international waters off Norway’s coast in two separate exercises Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 7-9. The first exercise, in particular, will be held very close to the zone where NATO will be conducting Trident Juncture, which has raised concerns among Western experts that the two forces may come into conflict through miscalculation or provocation. Although Russian and NATO forces have operated in close proximity before, particularly in Syria, it is not clear whether deconfliction channels have bene established for this exercise. Apparently, Norwegian government officials have not expressed much concern about the potential for trouble, so it may be that the issue is being dealt with through the established lines of communication between NATO headquarters and the Russian General Staff.

Impact on NATO-Russia Relations

The long-term impact of the exercise itself on NATO-Russia relations is likely to be fairly negligible. Much like comparable recent Russian exercises, Trident Juncture will be used by NATO to demonstrate its intent to protect its members and allies from Russian aggression and by Russia to highlight the seriousness of the threat it faces from its potential adversary. Once the exercise is completed, the political impact will fade away relatively quickly, though undoubtedly both sides will trot it out as necessary to score political points in both domestic and international contexts. The real impact will be on the military side, where the exercise is expected to improve the ability of participating military forces to work together in adverse conditions, particularly for those NATO countries that have not previously operated in the far north and will be able to get a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses of their forces in such an environment. Meanwhile, NATO-Russia relations will be affected far more seriously if the United States does choose to deploy troops on a permanent basis in Poland or elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

The opinions in this article are solely those of the author.


Dmitry Gorenburg

Dmitry Gorenburg is a senior research scientist in the strategic studies division of CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization based in Virginia. He is also an associate of Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the editor of Problems of Post-Communism.

 

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a.f.Shaun RameweTheCelotajsTEPYou can call me AL Recent comment authors
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Walter Dublanica
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More huffin & puffin to try to scare the Russians. Russians are fighters as any country that entered it’s territory knows. Germany/France/Sweden/Turkey.

wiggins
Guest
wiggins

Silly boys playing silly buggers… 🙂

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

Stupid is, what stupid does.

a.f.
Guest
a.f.

5200 Russian soldiers killed in Donbass since the Invasion in 2014. Not much……………..and they deserved it.

TEP
Guest
TEP

War is, unfortunately, almost inevitable. The only hope now is that sufficient senior US military recognise it’s catastrophic futility and back down before it’s too late. This excellent article by The Saker frames it perfectly, and literally EVERYBODY should read and understand it it.

http://thesaker.is/a-senior-russian-diplomat-confirms-russia-is-preparing-for-war-is-anybody-listening/.

TheCelotajs
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TheCelotajs

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wants a war with Russia so bad he dreams about it every nigh. Playing War Games is not the same thing as real combat when the other side is shooting live ammo back at you and your buddy is blown apart next to you. A whole different ball game.

a.f.
Guest
a.f.

Russia wants WW3, so the NATO must be prepared.

a.f.
Guest
a.f.

At least seven Russian military personnel died as a result of the explosion at the headquarters of the Russian troops near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, reported EBAA news outlet. “Seven Russian military, as well as representatives of the Syrian regime, were killed on Friday after an explosive device was detonated at the headquarters of the Russian troops in the Criminal Court building north of the Panorama junction on the Deir ez-Zor-Damascus road,” EBAA writes. It is noted that the Russians were members of the so-called “ISIS hunters” of the 5th Corps of Assad Army. It is not yet known… Read more »

Shaun Ramewe
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Shaun Ramewe

Russia laughs and buzzes these easy-target NATerrorO drills every time with nearby missile tests and routine bomber flights!! Same when Russia kills NATerrorO terrorists in Syria – LOL.

Latest

BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Latest

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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