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US approves military assistance to Ukraine after Trump-Putin summit

Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020.

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On July 20, the US Defense Department announced in a statement that it will provide $200 million to Ukraine in security-cooperation funds earmarked for additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts to build the defensive capacity of its armed forces.

The funds are intended to enhance Ukraine’s command-and-control and situational-awareness systems, secure communications, military mobility, night-vision capabilities, and military medical treatment. “This reaffirms the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and Ukraine,” the statement noted.

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The package includes equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs, including counter-artillery and counter-mortar radars, high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, night-vision devices, electronic warfare detection, secure communications, and medical equipment. The total of US security-sector assistance to Ukraine since 2014 will now top $1 billion in aid.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the founder the Senate Ukraine Caucus, hailed the announcement, which he called “a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle … against Russian aggression,” as he put it.

In March, the State Department cleared a $47-million sale of FGM-148 Javelin portable anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.  The package specified 210 missiles and 37 launchers. Ukrainian personnel have been training with the new weapons since May.

Sending US military on an advice and training mission is tantamount to indirect involvement in Ukraine’s internal conflict. Hundreds of US and Canadian military instructors have been training Ukrainian personnel at the Yavorov firing range since 2015. The US Navy operates a facility in Ochakov.

In June, Ukraine’s parliament approved the law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine (on the Direction of Ukraine’s Foreign Policy),” which set NATO membership as Ukraine’s foreign-policy goal, replacing the country’s non-aligned status. With the economy in pitiful shape, Ukraine’s defense expenditures already greatly exceed  2% of its GDP. Very few NATO members spend such a share of their GDP on military needs, despite the pledges they have made at summits.

Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020. But allocating a large percentage of GDP to military needs and getting bang for one’s buck are two different things. Natan Chazin, a former advisor to the chief of the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, believes the military reforms have gone nowhere.

According to a sensational story in the New York Times, corruption is widespread in the ranks of Ukraine’s military. If so, who can guarantee that the US-supplied weapons would not fall into the wrong hands and be used against the US military somewhere outside of Europe?

The US 2018 fiscal year (FY) defense budget allocates $350 million for security assistance to Kiev. In the draft budget for FY 2019, Ukraine is included in the list of countries to be granted security assistance under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program.

The sum of $200 million was allocated months ago as part of the defense budget, but was kept on hold pending “a series of defense reforms” Washington was demanding from Kiev. The passage of Ukraine’s new national security law, signed by the Ukrainian president on July 5, met the requirements enshrined in the US legislation, thereby allowing the Pentagon to release the funds.

The Law on National Security provides a legislative framework for aligning Ukraine’s national security architecture with Euro-Atlantic principles. It is perceived as a major step toward achieving NATO interoperability.

The timing has a symbolic impact.  US President Donald Trump has come under harsh criticism for the remarks he made during a joint press conference after the summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.  The announcement on military aid to Ukraine came on the same day the White House rejected a proposal from Russia to hold a referendum in eastern Ukraine on the fate of the region.

The possibility was raised by Vladimir Putin during the talks. Addressing Russian diplomats on July 19, President Putin said that any country pushing Ukraine or Georgia into the NATO fold “should think of the possible consequences of this irresponsible policy” because Russia would “respond in kind to any aggressive steps that directly threaten Russia.” Indeed, why should the US provide lethal weapons and training to a neighbor of Russia, not to mention its military presence in Ochakov? Russia has not sent weapons to any neighbors of the US, nor does it have a military presence near America’s borders.

Military cooperation between the US and Ukraine is a multilateral process that is moving forward. A US-Ukraine cyber-security bill has passed in the House.

So, cooperation in various areas is thriving, despite human-rights violations in Ukraine. This fact has been confirmed by a report from the State Department. The corruption in Ukraine is an internationally acknowledged problem. Popular protests are commonplace, despite the fact that the conflict in the Donbass is being used to distract the public from their domestic woes.

Many in the West are frustrated with the way Kiev is implementing reforms and with the political influence of the oligarchs.  A study by the prestigious Brookings Institute has confirmed the fact that the reforms in Ukraine have foundered. The country’s politicians are embracing extremist rhetoric.

But a blind eye is being turned to all of this, as Kiev grows obsequious and ready to comply with instructions from Washington. In late June, the Ukrainian government made a decision to buy American coal from Pennsylvania, which is said to be almost twice as expensive as what is locally sourced in the Donbass.

It has also decided to rely on cooperation with Westinghouse, in an attempt to maintain its nuclear energy capacity. The deal assumes that the spent fuel will be stored near the surface, turning the country into a nuclear dump.

Kiev has recently been rewarded with an official status in NATO. The 2018 NATO summit confirmed its support for Ukraine’s membership. To display its diligence Kiev has recently joined a new three-nation anti-Moscow alliance.

With the US-Russia two-way dialog on Ukraine stalled, Washington is no longer viewed as a mediator, but rather an accomplice who is fueling the conflict. America’s vigorous political support and security assistance is enticing Kiev into seeking a military solution to the crisis in the Donbass. Where could that lead?

Russia can supply the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine with weapons systems, including the Kornet anti-tank system, which has better specs than the US Javelin. Moscow could recognize the republics as independent states, once the Minsk II accords wash out. If Russian forces are invited in by the governments of those new republics, Moscow may agree to those requests, which would be an action strictly in compliance with international law.

This is the scenario the US and Ukraine may provoke.  They will have no one to blame but themselves.

Via Strategic Culture

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tomWillDippelchristianbloodnormski1John Vu Recent comment authors
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tom

“Ukraine’s government says its military will meet NATO standards by or during the year 2020”.

Meaning that it will then be prepared to be absolutely butchered if it ever tries to tackle the Russian armed forces.

WillDippel
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WillDippel

As shown in this article, there another European nation that is willing to spend billions of dollars to help NATO expand its presence:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/05/polands-open-invitation-to-united.html

While the drums of war may not yet be beating, the drummer is certainly sitting on his stool, drumsticks in hand and the American military-industrial complex is just waiting for the music to start.

christianblood
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christianblood

Russia should now provide more modern SAMs, radars and especially more anti-ship missiles to Iran.

normski1
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normski1

US military assistance for Ukraine can only end badly!.

John Vu
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John Vu

And Ukraine still “trumped”

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
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VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Banderised Ukraine needs mental assistance, urgently, before they are dumped in the dustbin of history.

Brewerstroupe
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Brewerstroupe
AmericanCossack
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AmericanCossack

Russia and China should be befriending the new Mexican President Lopez Obrador. Maybe a new joint Russian-Chinese military base in Tijuana would get the attention of those Russophobic a$$holes in Washington.

Penny Fulton
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Penny Fulton

For ‘assistance ‘ always read ‘occupation ‘ . Lucky old Ukraine people , now totally occupied by and forever beholden by debt to the USA !
Just as the UK Gov. agreed to be after the war, in exchange for a few beads and trinkets for the people .

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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