INTL Europe: Politics, Economics, Military - November 2021

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Poland seals Belarus border crossing in migrant standoff
Warsaw fears a possible "armed" escalation after a large group of migrants attempted to force their way over the border. Belarus denies coordinating the convoy and has warned against "any provocations."



people along the border carrying items
Polish officials say they do not need help from the EU

Polish officials closed the crossing with Belarus at the border town of Kuznica on Tuesday morning, a day after thousands of migrants arrived in the area.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the incident as a "hybrid attack" conducted by the regime of Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

"Sealing the Polish border is our national interest. But today the stability and security of the entire EU is at stake," Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

"We will not be intimidated and will defend peace in Europe with our partners from NATO and EU."

Belarus denied the Polish accusations, labeling them as "unfounded and unsubstantiated," and claimed Warsaw was deliberately escalating tensions.

"We would like to warn the Polish side in advance against any provocations directed at the Republic of Belarus to justify any illegal use of force against unarmed people in need, including many women and minors," it said.

What is the situation at the Poland-Belarus border?
Hundreds of migrants are believed to still be near the border on Tuesday, with videos showing tents and fireplaces on the Belarusian side. The Polish Interior Ministry said the night was quiet, save for a rock being thrown at a police car.

Videos from the scene on Monday showed a large group of migrants attempting to breach the border. Polish border guards and military claim Belarus troops were controlling and directing the group.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters that another 3,000 to 4,000 migrants were massing in the area.

"We expect that there may be an escalation of this type of action on the Polish border in the near future, which will be of an armed nature," he added.


Watch video01:59
Tensions high on Poland-Belarus border
How has Germany and the EU reacted?

The EU claims Lukashenko is attracting migrants from the Middle East to Belarus with special visas and taking them to the border with EU members Poland and Lithuania.

On Tuesday, Germany's outgoing Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called on EU countries to "stand together" and accused Lukashenko and his Russian ally Vladimir Putin of trying to destabilize the West.


Watch video03:56
Poland ups border security as migrant numbers grow: Magdalena Gwozdz-Pallokat reports
"The Poles have reacted correctly so far,'' Seehofer told German mass-circulation daily Bild. "We cannot criticize them for securing the EU's external border with admissible means. The Poles are fulfilling a very important service for the whole of Europe.''

So far, the Polish authorities have refused the offers of additional assistance from the EU.
dj/rt (AFP, Interfax, Reuters)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Sprawling Tent City On EU Border Amid Freezing Temperatures In Belarus-Poland Migrant Showdown
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
WEDNESDAY, NOV 10, 2021 - 01:00 AM
After Monday's major confrontation between thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants who sought to breach Poland's border from Belarus, a makeshift tent city has emerged at the EU entry point as the standoff continues, and as temperatures plunge.

"Hundreds of migrants shivered in freezing temperatures and huddled round campfires on the Belarusian border with Poland on Tuesday in front of razor wire fences and lines of Polish border guards blocking their entry into the European Union," Reuters describes of the intensifying situation. Encampments can be seen a mere meters from the barbed-wire separation fence outside Kuznica village, with a heavy Polish police and military presence on the other side.

View: https://twitter.com/podlaskaPolicja/status/1457944183000510466?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1457944183000510466%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fsprawling-tent-city-eu-border-amid-freezing-temperatures-belarus-poland-migrant

Polish authorities are continuing to warn of an "armed confrontation" potentially coming, given they've charged Belarus with intentionally orchestrating a violent showdown on the border as retaliation for Western anti-Lukashenko sanctions.

On the ground video which circulated widely on social media this week has appeared to show Belarusian security services behind the migrants. They haven't disbanded the group on their side of the border, but seem to be goading them into confrontation with the Polish guards.
View: https://twitter.com/Archer83Able/status/1457733665786580994?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1457733665786580994%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fsprawling-tent-city-eu-border-amid-freezing-temperatures-belarus-poland-migrant

The migrants have been reportedly shouting chants of "Germany! Germany!" - indicating their intent to make it to the Western European country known for its ample social benefits given to migrants and refugees.
View: https://twitter.com/podlaskaPolicja/status/1458025753967222784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1458025753967222784%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fsprawling-tent-city-eu-border-amid-freezing-temperatures-belarus-poland-migrant

After clashes which involved attempts to tear down the wire fencing on Monday, The Associated Press reported the overnight situation as follows:
Polish authorities reported that the situation on the border was calm overnight and earlier Tuesday, but authorities said they were bracing for any possibility. Poland’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that a large group of Belarusian forces was moving toward the migrant camp.
European Union headquarters is laying blame squarely on Minsk, saying Lukashenko is engaged in a form of "hybrid attack" using migrants as a weapon, with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen urging more sanctions on Belarus for the escalation.
View: https://twitter.com/WorldAffairsPro/status/1457878089472434182?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1457878089472434182%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fsprawling-tent-city-eu-border-amid-freezing-temperatures-belarus-poland-migrant

Lithuania and Latvia have also beefed up military presence at their borders with Russia-backed Belarus, with the former country overnight declaring a border emergency for one month.
Russia's Putin and Alexander Lukashenko are said to be in talks over the EU border situation...
View: https://twitter.com/AFP/status/1458056782237077508?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1458056782237077508%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fsprawling-tent-city-eu-border-amid-freezing-temperatures-belarus-poland-migrant


Meanwhile Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak made a Tuesday morning visit to the border where in the name of the EU he proclaimed the "effective defense of our border" to a group of police and guards. "We do not know what else Lukashenko’s regime will come up with — this is the reality," he said.

See this thread also:

 
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Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

German Newspaper Highlights "Unusually Large" Number Of Soccer Players Who Have Collapsed Recently
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
WEDNESDAY, NOV 10, 2021 - 02:00 AM
Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,
German newspaper Berliner Zeitung has published a report seeking to answer why an “unusually large number of professional and amateur soccer players have collapsed recently.”


Headlined ‘Puzzling heart diseases in football,’ the report begins by highlighting the case of FC Barcelona’s Sergio Agüero, the 33-year-old striker who recently had to be withdrawn from a match after 41 minutes suffering from dizziness and breathing difficulties.

The article lists a large number of recent cases of footballers who have had heart problems or collapsed on the field, in some cases leading to death.

That list is republished here;



As we previously highlighted, other professional athletes have also recently suffered similar health problems, including 24-year-old Slovak hockey player Boris Sádecký, who tragically died after collapsing on the ice during a match last Friday.

28-year-old bodybuilder Jake Kazmarek also died “unexpectedly” four days after taking the COVID jab.

The Berliner Zeitung article doesn’t speculate as to whether reactions from COVID vaccines had anything to do with the rash of collapses and heart problems.


However, it does note that “heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis)” can “already occur in the course of banal virus infections” and lead to “life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.”

A “small number” of vaccinated people have suffered heart inflammation problems as a result of the vaccine, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Researchers are now investigating reports that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “are likely causing the inflammatory heart conditions myocarditis and pericarditis.”
 

northern watch

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Russia Sends Bombers To Fly Over Belarus After Poland Claims Moscow "Masterminded" Migrant Crisis

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
WEDNESDAY, NOV 10, 2021 - 11:05 AM

With the still chaotic and unraveling Belarus-Poland border situation becoming a full-blown crisis for the European Union, which is now threatening further sanctions on the Lukashenko government, the ex-Soviet Republic's key powerful ally Russia is jumping into the fray.

The Kremlin has lashed out, saying it's the European Union that's to blame for the migrant crisis due its attempting to "strangle" Belarus. This as the EU is readying fresh sanctions, with plans to close a big part of the border altogether. Russia was specifically responding to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's Tuesday comments saying the migrant crisis "has its mastermind in Moscow".


Source: Russian MoD


Given that most of the migrants who on Monday and Tuesday sought to break across barbed-wire border fences (which was allegedly encouraged by Belarusian security forces) are from the Middle East, Moscow urged the West to look at the "big picture" of how it's their own policies which created the crisis in the first place.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova gave the Kremlin's official response, also after EU officials began pointing the finger at Russia for backing Lukashenko: "Let’s not pretend it started yesterday. The situation at the EU eastern border is just a part of the big picture. A failure to see it, to understand it and admit it - that’s what constitutes the twisting of facts and lying. Lying of the worst kind that can ever exist - lying to themselves,’" she said.
And further according to TASS:
There are many examples, the spokeswoman said. "The destruction of the Iraqi statehood, which happened due to the actions of the US administration and allied states, caused tectonic shifts in the region.
The West-sponsored ‘’Arab spring,’’ the NATO campaign against Libya, the interference of the collective West in the affairs of Syria and the support of international terrorism there and, most importantly, the emergence of ISIS (the former name of the IS terrorist group, which is banned in Russia) on the ruins of the Iraqi state - all that has led to a mass exodus of refugees and migrants from that part of the world to Europe...," Zakharova said
.
The ratcheting rhetoric, blame-game, and continued finger pointing is now resulting in more direct means of muscle-flexing as on Wednesday Russia sent a pair of long-range bombers over Belarus in coordination with Minsk.

"As migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa made new attempts to break into Poland overnight, Moscow sent a further signal of support for its ally Belarus by dispatching two strategic bomber planes to patrol Belarusian airspace," Reuters writes.

"The Tu-22M3 bombers helped test Belarus's joint air defense system, RIA news agency quoted the defence ministry as saying in a statement that did not refer to the migrant crisis but served to underline the rise in tensions on NATO's eastern frontier," according to the report.

Meanwhile large migrant encampments are still present amid frigid temperatures a mere meters from the barbed-wire separation fence near Kuznica in Poland's northeast, with a heavy Polish police and military presence on the other side, as the stand-off continues, and likely with more migrants en route - reportedly being encouraged and assisted by Belarusian authorities.

Russia Sends Bombers To Fly Over Belarus After Poland Claims Moscow "Masterminded" Migrant Crisis | ZeroHedge
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB


Wooing France: VP Kamala Harris meets Macron after sub spat
today


French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Kamala Harris will try to smooth French feathers after a diplomatic crisis. The U.S.-France relationship hit a historic low this year after a U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia scuttled a French contract to sell subs to the Australian navy. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Vice President Kamala Harris Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Kamala Harris will try to smooth French feathers after a diplomatic crisis. The U.S.-France relationship hit a historic low this year after a U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia scuttled a French contract to sell subs to the Australian navy. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed Wednesday that their countries are ready to work together again, after a diplomatic drama surrounding a submarine deal that put the relationship at a historic low.

Harris met with Macron in the evening at the Elysee presidential palace, as part of a weeks-long effort by Washington to mend relations with France, America’s oldest ally.

Harris’ four-day trip to Paris comes after President Joe Biden told Macron the U.S. had been “clumsy” in handling the submarine issue, during a meeting in Rome, Italy on Oct. 29. Biden didn’t formally apologize to Macron, but conceded the U.S. should not have caught its oldest ally by surprise. The secretly negotiated U.S.-British submarine deal with Australia led to a prior deal with France being scrapped.

Macron on Wednesday said he had had “a very fruitful meeting” with Biden. “We do share the view that we are at the beginning of a new era and our cooperation is absolutely critical for this one,” he said.

Echoing the French president’s comments, Harris said: “I think we share this belief that we are at the beginning of a new era, which presents us with many challenges, but also many opportunities.”

“Building on the great conversation that you and President Biden had, I look forward to the next few days. We’ll work together and renew the focus that we’ve always had on a partnership,” she added.

She said that they were to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, cooperation on space and climate change, amid other topics.

Earlier Wednesday, Harris paid her respects to Americans who died in the two world wars and are buried in a cemetery overlooking the Paris skyline. To the notes of Taps, Harris laid a wreath in their honor and met with U.S. military service members at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial.

Among the more than 1,500 graves was that of Inez Crittenden, a World War I switchboard operator from Harris’ hometown of Oakland. Noting that was “one of the few jobs women could have” at the time, Harris said, “We’re very proud of her memory and her service.”

Crittenden died on Armistice Day — Nov. 11, 1918 — from pneumonia, likely caused by the flu pandemic of the era. Harris will attend Armistice Day commemorations in France on Thursday.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Romania Wants More US Troops In Black Sea Region To Deter "Russian Aggression"
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
THURSDAY, NOV 11, 2021 - 05:45 AM
Romania's government revealed Tuesday that it's made a formal request for the Biden administration to send more American troops to the eastern European country as well as beef up the US military presence in the Black Sea.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu was in Washington on Monday to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The day following he said at an Atlantic Council event, "We have discussed about the importance of increasing the US presence in the region and in Romania."

According to a State Department readout of the meeting, the two also discussed "Russian aggression" in the region of "NATO's Eastern Flank", emphasizing the US-Romania Strategic Partnership which helps deter this.


The Monday meeting in Washington, via Romanian Journal

Blinken in the statement "praised Romania as a stalwart NATO Ally and both agreed to collaborate on Black Sea security issues and Russian aggression against Ukraine and others on NATO’s Eastern Flank."

Currently a pair of US warships are deployed in the Black Sea, engaged in joint exercises with other NATO members, which Russia this week slammed as "provocative" and "destabilizing". "This is an almost constant attempt to test us, to check how ready we are, how much we have built the entire [defense] system off the Black Sea coast," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Romania is among NATO members on the Black Sea that Washington counts on to keep a presence there, regularly hosting over 1,000 US troops, which are regularly rotated. It further hosts the US Aegis Ashore missile defense system, which the Pentagon classifies as providing ballistic missile coverage for southern Europe.

And as The Hill recounts, "In May, Romania bolstered their position by committing to purchase the Naval Strike Missile. This coastal defense system will certainly complicate Putin’s calculations in the Black Sea when operational by 2024." Romania is also host to MQ-9 Reaper drones, which recently arrived there along with Air Force technicians and operators.
View: https://twitter.com/MissileDefAdv/status/1199017461561081862?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1199017461561081862%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fromania-wants-more-us-troops-black-sea-region-deter-russian-aggression

For all of these reasons, and in particular the still simmering war in eastern Ukraine, Moscow is worried about continued US influence and encroachment around the Black Sea region, given not only the NATO presence that includes the countries of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - but also nations like Ukraine and Georgia which the Biden administration has recently signaled have an "open door" to seek a path toward eventual full NATO membership.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Belarus Could Cut Key Gas Transit Pipeline To Western Europe: "We Deliver Heat & They Threaten Us?"
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
THURSDAY, NOV 11, 2021 - 12:30 PM
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday threatened to take the drastic action of cutting off the Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline at a moment the European Union is both preparing fresh sanctions on Minsk, and mulling closure of the EU border altogether with Belarus.
"We deliver heat to Europe, they still threaten us that they will close the border. And what if we cut off natural gas? Therefore, I would recommend that the Polish leadership, Lithuanians and other heedless people think before speaking," Lukashenko told a meeting of his cabinet in Minsk.
Russian energy giant Gazprom operates the Yamal-Europe pipeline which runs across Russia, Belarus, Poland, and into Germany. The 2,600 mile natural gas transit line has significantly increased its volume to Europe in recent days, according to Lukashenko.

AFP/Getty Images
Countries border Belarus have this week declared states of emergencies while sending military reinforcements as thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants have sought to force their way through key crossings, particularly near northeast Poland.

Germany has been the latest country to join Poland in directly accusing the Lukashenko government of "trafficking" in migrants as a geopolitical weapon against Europe. Both Belarus and Russia have responded by accusing the EU of fueling the crisis in the first place, both through its foreign policy which destabilizes the Mideast-North Africa region, and its sanctions targeting Belarus.

Lukashenko in his Thursday comments strongly hinted he's ready to escalate and that its the West that must back down if they hope to relieve the crisis of migrant pressure:
"But it is up to them. If they close it (the border) let them do it," Lukashenko said. At the same time, he ordered the Foreign Ministry "to warn everyone in Europe: if they introduce additional sanctions that are 'undigestible' and 'unacceptable' for us, then we should respond."
"How to respond, we agreed with you about it half a year ago," the President of Belarus said.
View: https://twitter.com/Ozkok_A/status/1458692229472604161?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1458692229472604161%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Flukashenko-floats-cutting-key-gas-transit-pipeline-western-europe-we-deliver-heat-they

Already the EU closure of at least on major crossing into Europe demonstrates what could happen to East European trade and transit if the whole border is shut to the ex-Soviet Republic.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni was cited in the following Thursday respond to Lukashenko's threats over the ordeal:
In addition to another round of EU sanctions, Poland closed one of the main border crossings with Belarus earlier this week. One of the remaining border points is reporting trucks have to wait more than 50 hours to cross.
"We should not be intimidated, of course, by Lukashenko's threats,"
Gentiloni told a news conference presenting the Commission's new economic forecasts.

What's essentially a pipeline blackmail threat as a frigid winter is approaching came on the heals of the defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania describing "the security crisis unfolding on the Polish-Belarusian and Lithuanian-Belarusian border as very alarming." It said Belarus is deliberately escalating, "which is posing serious threats to European security."
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Sounds like the EU doesn't have its act together.


EU Official Calls US Warships Near Russia's Coast "Clearly" An Unncessary "Provocation"
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
FRIDAY, NOV 12, 2021 - 02:45 AM
An EU official has made surprising remarks this week, evaluating the presence of a pair of large US warships in the Black Sea. French member of the European Parliament Thierry Mariani slammed ongoing naval exercises by the USS Porter and USS Whitney as "clearly a provocation" by Washington.

"The presence of the 'Mount Whitney', flagship of the US Sixth Fleet and the USS Porter in the Black Sea, as well as the NATO naval maneuvers, are clearly a provocation of Russia," Mariani said.


He issued the statements in an interview to Russia's Sputnik: "Can you imagine what the American reaction would be if the Russian navy organized maneuvers in international waters off the American coast, near Washington DC?" he questioned.

The statements come as both US and Ukrainian officials, as well as Romanian leaders and other Black Sea NATO members, have urged a greater US military presence on the Black Sea, citing "Russian aggression".

On renewed tensions over Ukraine, coming two weeks after Kiev officials accused the Kremlin of building up troops near Donbass and in the Crimea area, the French official said:
"This is very serious and could push Ukrainian politicians, the culprits of this widespread corruption, into a headlong rush action, for example into a hazardous military offensive in Donbass or an armed provocation of Russia in the Black Sea."
And on NATO encroachment in eastern Europe and around the Black Sea, he said:
"NATO should have been dismantled at the same time as the Warsaw Pact was suppressed in the last century and the present expansion, and projection by NATO of military forces to the whole world is very alarming."
The statements appeared to back provocative statements made days ago by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said, "This is an almost constant attempt to test us, to check how ready we are, how much we have built the entire [defense] system off the Black Sea coast."
 

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Russia sends paratroopers to Belarus for drills near Poland
Russia has sent paratroopers to Belarus in a show of support for its ally amid the tensions over an influx of migrants on the Belarusian border with Poland
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press
12 November 2021, 03:35



MOSCOW -- Russia sent paratroopers to Belarus Friday in a show of support for its ally amid the tensions over an influx of migrants on the Belarusian border with Poland.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that as part of joint war games Russian paratroopers will parachute from heavylift Il-76 transport planes in Belarus’ Grodno region that borders Poland.

The Belarusian military said the exercise involving a battalion of Russian paratroopers was intended to test the readiness of the allies' rapid response forces due to an “increase of military activities near the Belarusian border."


It said that as part of the drills, which will also involve Belarusian air defense assets, helicopter gunships and other forces, troops will practice targeting enemy scouts and illegal armed formations, along with other tasks.

Earlier this week, Russia sent its nuclear-capable strategic bombers on patrol missions over Belarus for two straight days. Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that the flights came in response to a massive build-up on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Russia has strongly supported Belarus amid a tense standoff this week as thousands of migrants and refugees, most of them from the Middle East, gathered on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland in the hope of crossing into Western Europe.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, of encouraging illegal border crossings as a “hybrid attack” to retaliate against EU sanctions on his government for its crackdown on domestic protests after Lukashenko’s disputed 2020 reelection.

Belarus denies the allegations but has said it will no longer stop refugees and migrants from trying to enter the EU.

The Belarusian Defense Ministry accused Poland on Thursday of an “unprecedented” military buildup on the border, saying that migration control did not warrant the concentration of 15,000 troops backed by tanks, air defense assets and other weapons.

Russia and Belarus have a union agreement envisaging close political and military ties. Lukashenko has stressed the need to boost military cooperation in the face of what he has described as aggressive actions by NATO allies.

Russia sends paratroopers to Belarus for drills near Poland - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

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UK Deploys Troops To Poland To "Fortify Border Fence" With Belarus
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
FRIDAY, NOV 12, 2021 - 11:27 AM
UK troops are being freshly deployed in Poland to assist in strengthening the border fence at points of entry into the EU along the Belarus-Poland border, at a moment the showdown continues and as Minsk and Moscow are ramping up their rhetoric in condemning Europe's hypocrisy.

Polish defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak made the announcement Friday, saying in a written statement that British military engineers will help repair and fortify border fences which have recently been breached by Middle East migrants on the other side, reportedly with the assistance of Belarusian security forces goading them on.
UK Ministry of Defence, file image

Poland and the Baltic allies Latvia and Lithuania, which have also declared states of emergencies at their respective borders with Belarus, have all charged the Alexander Lukashenko government with deliberately orchestrating the border provocations which have driven world headlines this week.

There are currently worries that the confrontation between Poland and Belarus could result in armed conflict, given currently both have troops on either side of the border, with thousands of migrants caught in the middle.

UK media reports detail that "The troops are likely from the light cavalry squadron that the UK currently has stationed in Poland as part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence, which includes soldiers from the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers.

The British troops will also provide reconnaissance support, given Poland has ramped up its monitoring activities of migrant caravan movements on the Belarusian side. Minsk has been further accused of actually flying migrants into Belarus from the Middle East in order to facilitation their passage into the EU. Most appear to be trying to make it to Germany given the ample social benefits provided there. The most contested EU cross appears to be in northeast Poland.

Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted Friday that "reconnaissance has begun before the support of British engineering troops will start. Our soldiers will establish cooperation in strengthening the fence on the Polish-Belarusian border."

View: https://twitter.com/Ozkok_A/status/1459151602951110657?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1459151602951110657%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Fuk-deploys-military-engineers-strengthen-polands-border-fence-belarus

On the other side, Russia has deployed paratroopers to Belarus to participate in joint drills. While it's unclear whether they will directly support Belarus at the border, it's at the very least a resounding message to the NATO and the West, at a moment the EU is readying fresh sanctions on Minsk.


The Daily Mail reports, "Belarus said the drill was in response to the 'build-up of military activity' at the Polish border, where 15,000 troops have been stationed to hold back the migrants, while Russia said it was to test the 'combat readiness' of its troops."

For now it appears both sides and their external backers are willing to escalate. Meanwhile, hundreds are still attempting to breach the border into the EU. Poland meanwhile has plans for a large, high-tech border fence, but which hasn't begun to be constructed.
 

Plain Jane

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Kremlin vows not to cut gas supplies to EU
The Kremlin seemed to distance itself from a threat made by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko amid a standoff with the European Union.



 The view of the natural gas pipeline in Minsk suburbs, Belarus
Russia put distance between it and threats made by Belarus' leader to cut natural gas flows to Europe

Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov on Friday assured that Russia will keep supplying gas to Europe.

A day earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to cut off natural gas flows from Russia to Europe. The comment was in retaliation to possible EU sanctions over a standoff over migrants stranded on the Belarus-Poland border.

"This is a statement by the president of Belarus," Peskov said, noting that "Belarus is our ally, but it is a sovereign state."


Watch video02:14
Belarus warns against new EU sanctions
"Russia has been, is and will remain a country that fulfills all obligations to provide European consumers with gas," he said.

"The reliability of Russia as a supplier under current and future contracts is beyond doubt."
Moscow delivers gas through Belarus to Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline.

How reliant is Europe on Russia's gas supplies?
A total of 41% of all the EU's natural gas imports come from Russia, according to the EU's Eurostat service.

In September, the last piece of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was put in place.
The new pipeline sparked concerns from the US as well as Ukraine that Moscow could use energy as a weapon.

Ukraine was additionally opposed to the project because it is set to miss out on billions in tax revenue for gas that presently flows through the country from Russia to Europe.

Why is the EU threatening new sanctions against Belarus?
For months, migrants have been trying to cross from Belarus into EU member Poland. Tensions escalated this week when Poland said it pushed back hundreds of migrants on its border with Belarus.

EU officials have accused Belarus of "weaponizing" the migrants in response to previous sanctions imposed against Minsk.

European Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen earlier this week called on EU member states to "finally approve" an extended sanctions regime, which is now making its way through the bloc's internal procedures.

The new sanctions may encompass the scope of human trafficking, an EU diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity told DW.

The new sanctions package may also include measures against Belarusian airline Belavia and companies leasing aircraft to the firm, the diplomat said.



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Poland-Belarus border crisis: Can Putin help?
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality

BY TYLER DURDEN
ZERO HEDGE
SATURDAY, NOV 13, 2021 - 08:10 AM

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,
  • The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe.
  • Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty.
  • "If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming." — Bob Seely, Tory MP.
  • "It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement." — Richard Whitman, professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent.
  • "Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means."The Economist.
  • "The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states." — Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department.
  • "Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force.... Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real." — Brooks Tigner, analyst, Atlantic Council.
European federalists seeking to transform the 27-member European Union into a European superstate — a so-called United States of Europe — have revived a decades-old proposal to build a European army.

The call for a supranational army, part of a push for Europe to achieve "strategic autonomy" from the United States, is being spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, who, as part of his reelection campaign, apparently hopes to replace outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the de facto leader of Europe.

Macron claims that Europe needs its own military because, according to him, the United States is no longer a reliable ally. He cites as examples: U.S. President Joe Biden's precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan; the growing pressure on Europe to take sides with the United States on China; and France's exclusion from a new security alliance in the Indo-Pacific region.

Many EU member states disagree with Macron. Eastern European countries, some of which face existential threats from Russia, know that neither the EU nor France can match the military capabilities offered by NATO and the United States. Other countries are concerned about a panoply of issues ranging from financial costs to national sovereignty. Still others are opposed to creating a parallel structure to NATO that could undermine the transatlantic alliance. A common EU army appears to be a long way from becoming reality.

A logical course of action would be for EU member states (which comprise 21 of the 30 members of NATO) to honor past pledges to increase defense spending as part of their contribution to the transatlantic alliance. That, however, would fly in the face of the folie de grandeur — the delusions of grandeur — of European federalists who want to transform the EU into a major geopolitical power.


Pictured: Soldiers of the Franco-German brigade, a military unit founded in 1989, jointly consisting of units from the French Army and German Army. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Strategic Autonomy

The term "strategic autonomy" in European discussions on defense has been in use since at least December 2013, when the European Council, the EU's governing body comprised of the leaders of the 27 EU member states, called for the EU to improve its defense industrial base.
In June 2016, the term appeared in the EU's security strategy. The document — "A Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy" — was said to "nurture the ambition of strategic autonomy" for the European Union. "An appropriate level of ambition and strategic autonomy," it stated, "is important for Europe's ability to promote peace and security within and beyond its borders."
In recent years, the concept of "strategic autonomy" has taken on far broader significance: the idea now means that the EU should become a sovereign power that is militarily, economically, and technologically independent from the United States.
EU observer Dave Keating noted:
"The Brussels buzzword is now 'strategic autonomy,' an effort to wrestle the word 'sovereignty' away from nationalists and make the case that only a strong EU can make Europeans truly sovereign in relation to Russia, China, and the United States."
European federalists increasingly have called for building an autonomous EU military force:
  • March 8, 2015. In an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Jean-Claude Juncker, then the president of the European Commission, the EU's administrative arm, declared that the European Union needed its own army because it was not "taken entirely seriously" on the international stage. The proposal was flatly rejected by the British government, which at the time was still an EU member: "Our position is crystal clear that defense is a national — not an EU — responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army."
  • September 26, 2017. President Macron, in a major speech at Sorbonne University, called for a joint EU defense force as part of his vision for the future of the bloc: "Europe needs to establish a common intervention force, a common defense budget and a common doctrine for action."
  • November 6, 2018. Macron, marking the centenary of the armistice that ended World War 1, warned that Europe cannot be protected without a "true, European army." He added: "We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America."
  • November 13, 2018. German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed Macron's calls for a European army: "The times when we could rely on others are over. This means nothing less than for us Europeans to take our destiny in our own hands if we want to survive as a Union.... We have to create a European intervention unit with which Europe can act on the ground where necessary. We have taken major steps in the field of military cooperation; this is good and largely supported in this house. But I also have to say, seeing the developments of the recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day."
  • September 10, 2019. During her first press conference as the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has long called for a "United States of Europe," said that she will lead a "geopolitical Commission" aimed at boosting the EU's role on the world stage. She did not offer many details other than a vaguely worded pledge that the European Union would "be the guardian of multilateralism."
  • November 7, 2019. President Macron, in an interview with the London-based magazine, The Economist, declared that NATO was "brain dead" and warned that European countries can no longer rely on the United States for defense. Europe, he said, stands on "the edge of a precipice" and needs to start thinking of itself strategically as a geopolitical power and regain "military sovereignty" or otherwise "we will no longer be in control of our destiny." Macron criticized U.S. President Donald J. Trump because he "doesn't share our idea of the European project." Chancellor Merkel said Macron "used drastic words — that is not my view of co-operation in NATO."
  • November 26, 2019. France and Germany announced the "Conference on the Future of Europe," a two-year post-Brexit soul-searching exercise aimed at reforming the EU to make it "more united and sovereign."
  • June 17, 2020. The European Council tasked the EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, with drafting a written "Strategic Compass." The document should have three main purposes: 1) to formulate the EU's first common threat analysis; 2) to strengthen the EU's security and defense role; and 3) to offer political guidance for future military planning processes. The Strategic Compass, aimed at harmonizing the perception of threats and risks within the EU, is to be presented in November 2021, debated by EU leaders in December 2021, and approved in March 2022.
  • December 3, 2020. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, in blog post, "Why European Strategic Autonomy Matters," wrote: "It is difficult to claim to be a 'political union' able to act as a 'global player' and as a 'geopolitical Commission' without being 'autonomous.'" He described "strategic autonomy" as a long-term process intended to ensure that Europeans "increasingly take charge of themselves."
  • May 5, 2021. Fourteen EU countries — Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain — called for the creation of a so-called EU First Entry Force consisting of 5,000 troops with air, land and sea capabilities.
  • August 29, 2021. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, said that the moment had come to establish an EU expeditionary force — a "First Entry Force" — to compensate for U.S. "disengagement" from international affairs. A senior EU diplomat, speaking to the Guardian newspaper, asked: "We have been here before — which leader is going to allow their nationals to be killed in the name of the EU? What problem is this reaction force meant to solve? Does Borrell seriously entertain the idea the EU would be able to step into the void the US left?"
  • September 15, 2021. In her annual State of the Union speech delivered to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, von der Leyen urged greater military independence from the United States. "Europe can — and clearly should — be able and willing to do more on its own," she said. She called for a "European Defense Union" but admitted the "lack of political will" to "build the foundation for collective decision-making."
  • October 2, 2021. European Council President Charles Michel, speaking at an award ceremony of the International Charlemagne Prize, declared that "2022 will be the year of European defense."
  • October 5-6, 2021. At an EU Summit in Slovenia, EU member states were so divided on the issue of strategic autonomy that the topic was not even included in the summit's final declaration. To create the illusion of consensus, Michel issued an "oral conclusion" of the summit: "To become more effective and assertive on the international stage, the European Union needs to increase its capacity to act autonomously."
End of Part 1
 
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Has No Life - Lives on TB
Part 2

A History of Failure
The debate over building a European army has been going on since the end of World War 2. In 1950, France proposed creating a common army to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union without having to rearm Germany. A treaty creating the so-called European Defense Community was signed in 1952, but it was never ratified by the French Parliament due to concerns that France would lose its sovereignty to a multilateral decision-making body.

In the late 1990s, after the EU and its member states failed to prevent a decade of bloodletting in the Yugoslav Wars, and after the United States intervened, European leaders called for the creation of a European Rapid Reaction Force capable of acting in future crises.

In 2007, after years of debate, the EU established two so-called EU battlegroups consisting of 1,500 troops each to respond to crises, but due to intra-European disputes over financing and deployment, they have never been used.

The European Union is now calling for the battlegroups to be rebranded as a "First Entry Force" comprised of 5,000 troops. It remains unclear why EU leaders think the latter will achieve what the former could not. In any event, a force that small is nowhere near enough to give the EU "strategic autonomy" from the United States.

Over the decades, the European quest for "strategic autonomy" has resulted in dozens of summits, declarations, concept papers, reports, institutions, terms and acronyms, including: Petersberg Declaration; St. Malo Declaration; Berlin Plus Agreement; Franco-German Brigade; German-Netherlands Corps; Belgian-Dutch Naval Cooperation Accord; European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP); Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP); Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO); European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP); Headline Goals; EU Battlegroups; European Gendarmerie Force; European Rapid Operational Force (EUROFOR); European Maritime Force; Eurocorps; Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF); Entente frugale; European Defense Agency; European Security Strategy; European Intervention Initiative (EI2); EUFOR; European Command and Control (C2); European Union Military Committee (EUMC); European Union Military Staff (EUMS); Joint Support Coordination Cell (JSCC); Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC); Political and Security Committee (PSC); Politico-Military Group (PMG); European Defense Fund; Coordinated Annual Review on Defense (CARD); and the EU's ongoing "Strategic Compass" process, among many others.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, in a recent opinion article published by Politico, concluded that "illusions of European strategic autonomy must come to an end." She added: "Europeans will not be able to replace America's crucial role as a security provider. We have to acknowledge that, for the foreseeable future, we will remain dependent."

Lack of Capabilities

An important obstacle to building a European army is the reluctance of EU governments to invest in defense. At the 2014 Wales Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, allies agreed to spend a minimum of 2% percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. In 2020, only nine of NATO's 21 European members honored their pledges, according to data supplied by NATO.

Germany — the biggest economy in the EU and the fourth-biggest in the world — spent only 1.53% of GDP on defense in 2020. That represents an increase of less than 0.5% of GDP since 2015. France, the EU's second-biggest economy, spent 2.01% of GDP on defense in 2020, an increase of only 0.3% of GDP since 2015. Italy, the EU's third-biggest economy, spent 1.41% of GDP on defense in 2020, while Spain, the EU's fourth-biggest economy, spent a mere 1.02% of GDP on defense in 2020, according to NATO data. The numbers show that defense spending is not a priority in most European countries.

The German armed forces (the Bundeswehr) are in an especially sad state of disrepair. A damning report published by the German Parliament in January 2019 found that critical equipment was scarce and that readiness and recruitment were at all-time lows. "No matter where you look, there's dysfunction," said a high-ranking German officer stationed at Bundeswehr headquarters in Berlin.

A May 2018 report by the German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that only four of Germany's 128 Eurofighter jets were combat ready. Germany's obligation to NATO requires it to have at least 80 combat-ready jets for crisis situations.

At the end of 2017, not one of the German Air Force's 14 large transport planes was available for deployment due to a lack of maintenance, according to the German Parliament. In October 2017, a spokesman for the German Navy said that all six of Germany's submarines were in the dock for repairs. In February 2015, Germany's defense ministry admitted that its forces were so under-equipped that they had to use broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise in Norway.

Much of the blame falls on German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During her 16 years in office, she has been content to free-ride on the U.S. defense umbrella. Also to blame is Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister between 2014 and 2019, before she was promoted to lead the European Commission, and who now wants to build a European army. As German defense minister, von der Leyen was plagued by scandals and accused of cronyism, mismanagement and nepotism.

EU affairs analyst Matthew Karnitschnig quipped:

"With Merkel on her way out, fixing the Bundeswehr will likely be up to her successor. Until then, plans for a 'European Army' that includes Germany have about as much chance of getting off the ground as the German Air Force."
France, which has just under 300,000 active-duty personnel, has the largest military in Europe. Still, it remains a regional power, not a global one. In September 2021, the RAND Corporation, in a major study — "A Strong Ally Stretched Thin: An Overview of France's Defense Capabilities from a Burdensharing Perspective" — concluded that the French military suffers many shortcomings that render as "limited" its capacity to sustain a high-end, conventional conflict.

The French Army "faces a challenge with respect to readiness, owing to past budget cuts and austerity measures, a small number of weapon systems, and the burden of sustaining ongoing overseas operations," according to RAND. The French Air Force "suffers from limited capacity" and "severely lacks strategic airlift." The French Navy, which has only one aircraft carrier, like France's other services, "has issues with readiness, and munitions stocks reportedly are low," according to RAND. The report's takeaway is that the French military would require decades of preparation and massive budget increases to realistically form the basis for a European army.

Poland, which is opposed to a European army because it would "weaken" the armies of NATO's member states, plans to double the size of its armed forces to 250,000 soldiers and 50,000 reserves. The expansion, announced on October 26, would make the Polish military the second-largest in Europe, ahead of that of the United Kingdom. In January 2020, Poland signed a contract worth $4.6 billion to purchase 32 F-35A fighter jets from the United States.

In October 2018, Belgium signed a $4.5 billion deal to purchase 34 F-35A fighter jets from the United States. "The offer from the Americans was the best in all our seven evaluation criteria," Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput wrote on Twitter.

"The decision is a setback for Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, who are behind the Eurofighter program, and also means the rejection of an informal French offer to sell Belgium the Rafale fighter built by Dassault Aviation," according to Reuters.
This implies that in the future the Belgian and Polish militaries will be further integrated with the United States and NATO rather than with a hypothetical European army.

End of Part 2
 
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Part 3

Macron's Motives

One of the most vocal champions of the idea of a European army is French President Emmanuel Macron. He must know that an independent EU military remains only a distant possibility, despite his describing the NATO alliance as "brain dead."

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to retire, it appears that much of Macron's posturing on European "strategic autonomy" is part of a French nationalist campaign strategy aimed at presenting France as a great power that dominates the European Union. Macron seems to be trying to appeal to French voters while carving out a role for himself to replace Merkel as the new leader of Europe.

Macron, who has yet to declare his candidacy, faces reelection in April 2022. Currently he is the clear first-round front-runner at 24%, according to recent polls cited by Politico. His main rivals are two nationalists: Marine Le Pen of the right-leaning National Rally party, and Éric Zemmour, a French essayist and media personality.

Macron has been calling for a European army for several years, but his professed aspiration for "strategic autonomy" shifted into high gear after U.S. President Donald J. Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO if European member states refused to pay their fair share. Trump's warning, which appears to have been more of a bluff than a real threat, prompted many European countries to increase their defense spending, even if most are still below the agreed-upon threshold of 2% of GDP.

Macron subsequently was dealt a humiliating blow by the Biden administration. In September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States announced a new tripartite strategic alliance aimed at countering China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Notably, the so-called AUKUS agreement does not include any member state of the European Union, which was completely left in the dark about the new alliance. AUKUS was announced on September 15, just hours before the EU unveiled its much-hyped "Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific." The EU had been hoping that its new plan would highlight its "strategic autonomy" from the United States in the Pacific region. Instead, the EU was eclipsed by AUKUS and exposed as a paper tiger.

Adding insult to injury, Australia announced that as part of the AUKUS deal, it had cancelled a multi-billion-dollar submarine contract — once dubbed the "contract of the century" — under which France was to supply Australia with 12 diesel-powered submarines. Instead, Australia said that it would be buying nuclear submarines from the United States.

France has reacted angrily to its change of fortunes. French Foreign Minister called AUKUS a "stab in the back." The French Ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Thébault, said that Australia's decision to cancel the submarine deal was akin to "treason." The French government claimed that the Australian decision caught Paris by surprise, but the subsequent leak of a text message between Macron and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that Macron knew well in advance that Australia was planning to cancel the contract.

The AUKUS humiliation set Macron into a rage and appears to be fueling his increasingly frenzied calls for "strategic autonomy." An advisor to Macron said:

"We could turn a blind eye and act as if nothing had happened. We think that would be a mistake for all Europeans. There really is an opportunity here."
So far, however, only Italy and Greece have come out in support of Macron's calls for an autonomous EU military force.

In September 2021, France and Greece signed a new defense and security agreement in which France pledged to provide military assistance to Greece in the event of an attack by a third country, even if such a country, Turkey, is a member of NATO. Macron said the deal, worth $3 billion to France, was a "milestone" in European defense because it strengthened the EU's "strategic autonomy."

Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis described the Greek-French defense deal "a first step towards the strategic autonomy of Europe." But some in the EU were skeptical of the deal and are concerned it will only serve to inflame tensions between Greece and Turkey.

"It is a bit bizarre to say the pact contributes to European sovereignty," an unnamed EU diplomat told Politico. "By all accounts, this is a traditional 19th-century defense pact between two European powers."

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, in an interview with the Danish newspaper Politiken, said that Macron was escalating his dispute with the United States way out of proportion:

"I think it is important to say, in relation to the discussions that are taking place right now in Europe, that I experience U.S. President Joe Biden as being very loyal to the transatlantic alliance.
"I think in general that one should refrain from lifting some specific challenges, which will always exist between allies, up to a level where they are not supposed to be. I really, really want to warn against this."
Meanwhile, the British newspaper, The Telegraph, on September 22 reported that Macron had offered to put France's seat on the United Nations Security Council "at the disposal of the European Union" if its governments back Macron's plans for an EU army. The French Presidency later denied the report:

"Contrary to the assertions reported this morning, no, France has not offered to leave its seat on the United Nations Security Council. It belongs to France, and it will remain so."
France assumes the EU's six-month rotating presidency on January 1, 2022. During that time, Macron is sure to continue pushing for "strategic autonomy" from the United States, including at a "Summit on European Defense" scheduled for the first half of 2022.

Select Commentary

Analysts James Jay Carafano and Stefano Graziosi, in an essay, "Europe's Strategic Autonomy Fallacy," wrote:

"Strategic autonomy might sound empowering, but it remains little more than a distraction and irritant to the transatlantic community and the real issues. European nations need more national defense capacity. Europe needs a strong, innovative, and productive defense industrial base, and Europeans need to take collective security and its role in a Europe whole, free, prosperous and at peace seriously. These problems can be better addressed by building the militaries the Europeans need than the fantasies Brussels wants."
A senior Tory MP, Bob Seely, warned:

"If the EU Army undermines NATO, or results in the separation of the U.S. and Europe or produces a paper army, Europe will be committing the most enfeebling and dangerous act of self-harm since the rise of fascism in the 1930s. An EU Army will amount to European de-arming."
EU affairs expert Dave Keating noted:

"The problem is that while leaders like Macron have tasked the Commission to make the EU more geopolitically strong, he and others still refuse to give the Commission the tools that would make it strong. For the last decade, the European Council has consistently opposed measures that would strengthen the Commission, because it would mean diluting the power of national governments....
"EU national leaders are all well aware of the need for Europe to speak with one voice if it ever wants to be taken seriously on the global stage. But their natural instinct to preserve their own power gets in the way of achieving this goal."
In an interview with France 24, the French state-owned television network, Richard Whitman, a professor of politics and international relations at the University of Kent, said:

"It will be hard to convince some member states that collective EU defense would bring the same security as NATO's U.S.-backed defense arrangement. Nobody in the EU has ever been able to come up with a decision-making arrangement that takes national divides into account while facilitating expeditious decision-making; it's either the lowest common denominator or grand rhetorical comments tied to absurd propositions. Military action is politically defensible only when taken by national leaders and parliaments — and it's difficult to see that being worked around."
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Walter Russell Mead noted that the entire premise of European leaders that the United States was "disengaging" from international affairs was based on a "significant misunderstanding." He wrote:
"Many Europeans, including some seasoned observers of the trans-Atlantic scene, believe that if the U.S. sees the Indo-Pacific as the primary focus of its foreign policy, it must be writing off the rest of the world. These observers look at the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and imagine that this is the kind of headlong retreat they can expect from America in Europe and the Middle East.
"This is unlikely. American interests are global, and American presidents, like it or not, can't confine their attention to a single world theater."
Polish analyst Łukasz Maślanka tweeted that the French arguments for "strategic autonomy" from the United States are lacking in substance:

"French reports from the European Council summit in Slovenia assess Macron's chances of convincing Europeans to EU defense. A critical tone prevails against the reluctant Balts and Poles who still stubbornly believe in NATO despite the U.S.'s allegedly inevitable withdrawal from Europe.
"However, it is French observers who lack lucidity: the U.S. presence in Central Europe has been growing, not diminishing in recent years. It is many times greater not only than what France currently delivers, but what it could ever deliver.
"Finally, if the U.S. really did intend to turn its back on Europe, the dismay in Paris would be no less than in Warsaw. It's harmful to drive something that can finally become a self-fulfilling prophecy."
The London-based magazine, The Economist, wrote that Europeans feel "unnerved" by Macron's push for "strategic autonomy" from the United States:

"Most of them, especially those near the Russian border, are happy to rely on America's security guarantee. Few share France's willingness to splurge on defense, or its expeditionary military culture. (Germany, especially, does not.) Nobody agrees what 'strategic autonomy' actually means. Low odds, however, seldom deter Mr. Macron. After the latest snub, the unhugged French president will doubtless conclude that he has little choice but to keep trying."
John Krieger, writing for the UK-based The Spectator, noted:

"Given that Emmanuel Macron has nailed his colors to the mast on driving European integration deeper, a refusal by European member states to follow suit would be embarrassing and not a good omen for his forthcoming presidency of the EU in January."
Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian defense ministry's NATO and EU department said:

"The EU is not a credible substitute for what NATO represents. You will not see any appetite for the European army amongst member states."
Analyst Brooks Tigner, writing for the Atlantic Council, concluded:

"Even if national capitals wanted to lunge for a common army, there are so many technical, legal, and administrative differences between their militaries that it would take decades to produce a smoothly functioning force.
"Those differences boil down to some of the most mundane things such as soldiers' rights. Strong unions representing military personnel in rich Scandinavian countries, for instance, ensure that their soldiers enjoy levels of physical comfort, hardship pay, and access to medical care that their equivalents in poorer southern EU countries can only dream of for an exercise, much less an actual operation. Whose union rules would govern a common European army? And how would that be financed?
"The differences are even sharper at the strategic level when it comes to intelligence. As a whole, the EU countries (and those of NATO as well) do not trust one another with sensitive information: it is parceled out very parsimoniously from one capital to a few trusted others. It would never work for a truly common army. Changing that alone via twenty-five-way trust for intelligence-sharing within PESCO would take years and years. Some deem it impossible.
"Conclusion: any talk of creating a fully-fledged common army, even within the next generation, is just that: jaw-jaw and not real-real."
European Army: Rhetoric Versus Reality | ZeroHedge

End of Part 3 of 3
 
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Has No Life - Lives on TB
Polish police find body of young Syrian near Belarus border
Polish police say the body of a young Syrian man has been found in the woods near the border with Belarus
By VANESSA GERA Associated Press
13 November 2021, 05:13



WARSAW, Poland -- Polish police said Saturday that the body of a young Syrian man was found in the woods near the border with Belarus, the latest victim in a political standoff at the European Union's eastern border.

The regime in Minsk has for months been encouraging illegal migration across its border into the EU nations of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. All three countries are reinforcing their frontiers, seeking to block the newly opened migration route, and the situation is growing more dangerous as winter approaches.

Polish police said the body of a Syrian man about 20 years old was found a day earlier near the village of Wólka Terechowska. They said the exact cause of death could not be determined and that an autopsy would be performed.
It brings the death toll now to at least nine reported victims in the migration encouraged by Belarus’ longtime President Alexander Lukashenko.

Many of the migrants are from Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East, people seeking to flee conflict and hopelessness for the prospect of better lives in Europe.

The crisis is creating another point of tension between the West and Belarus, and by extension with its closest ally: Russia.
Though Russia this week sent nuclear-capable strategic bombers and paratroopers to patrol over Belarus in a show of support, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied allegations of being involved in creating the flow of migrants to Europe.

“I want everyone to know that we have nothing to do with it. Everyone is trying to impose any responsibility on us for any reason and for no reason at all," Putin said in excerpts released Saturday of an interview with state television that is to be broadcast in full on Sunday.

He said that no Russian aviation companies carry the migrants to Belarus, and also lashed out at the West as a root cause for the crisis, with military operations in Iraq and elsewhere that have led to continued conflict in the region.

“Is it Belarus that pioneered these problems, or what? No, these are causes that were created by the Western countries themselves, including European countries,” Putin said.

A large number of migrants are in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border in frigid conditions. Polish authorities report daily new attempts by the migrants to breach the border.

The situation shows no signs of ending soon. Belarusian state news agency Belta reported that Lukashenko on Saturday ordered the military to set up tents at the border where food and other humanitarian aid can be gathered and distributed to the migrants.

Poland's Border Guards agency on Saturday morning said in one case, Belarusian soldiers began destroying a temporary border barrier near the Polish village of Czeremcha and used laser beams to blind Polish security services.

Nearby, a group of some 100 migrants was waiting to cross the border. “Belarusians equipped the foreigners with tear gas, which was used toward the Polish services,” the Border Guards said, saying the Poles stopped the attempts to cross.
Many of the reported incidents at the border are very hard to verify. Independent journalists face limits to their reporting in Belarus, and a state of emergency in Poland’s border zone prevents media from entering the area.

The state of emergency ends Nov. 30, and the Polish government said Saturday that it is working on a plan to let journalists at that time be able to again report from the border area with the permission of the Border Guards.

After the large migration into Europe in 2015, Europe has been reinforcing its borders to discourage the arrival of more migrants and refugees. Still, every year, tens of thousands try to get in, embarking on dangerous and sometimes deadly journeys by sea and land.

Since the summer, thousands have been lured by what appeared to be a new and easier way to slip into Europe, through Belarus.

The EU accuses Lukashenko of creating the artificial route in order to retaliate for sanctions against his regime imposed after an election in 2020 widely viewed as flawed and a harsh crackdown on internal dissent that followed.

The restrictions were toughened after an incident in May when a passenger jet flying from Greece to Lithuania was diverted by Belarus to Minsk, where authorities arrested dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich. The EU called it air piracy, barred Belarusian carriers from its skies and cut imports of the country’s top commodities, including petroleum products and potash, an ingredient in fertilizer.

A furious Lukashenko shot back by saying he would no longer abide by an agreement to stem illegal migration, arguing that the EU sanctions deprived his government of funds needed to contain flows of migrants. Planes carrying migrants from Iraq, Syria and other countries began arriving in Belarus.

———

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed.

———

Follow AP’s migration coverage at Migration

Polish police find body of young Syrian near Belarus border - ABC News (go.com)
 
Last edited:

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB



Poland says police hit with stones by migrants at border
an hour ago


A family eat at a tent camp as migrants gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. A large number of migrants are in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border in frigid conditions. Belarusian state news agency Belta reported that Lukashenko on Saturday ordered the military to set up tents at the border where food and other humanitarian aid can be gathered and distributed to the migrants. (Leonid Shcheglov/BelTA pool photo via AP)
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A family eat at a tent camp as migrants gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. A large number of migrants are in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border in frigid conditions. Belarusian state news agency Belta reported that Lukashenko on Saturday ordered the military to set up tents at the border where food and other humanitarian aid can be gathered and distributed to the migrants. (Leonid Shcheglov/BelTA pool photo via AP)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish authorities reported Sunday that a group of migrants who tried to cross the border from Belarus attacked Polish police officers with stones, hitting one in the helmet.

Police said that incident occurred Saturday evening near Kolonia Klukowicze, a village close to the border with Belarus. The impact of the stone was so forceful that “the helmet protecting the policeman’s head was damaged,” police said.

In a separate incident some three hours earlier, about 50 migrants broke through a border barrier by force near a different border village, Starzyna, police reported. Police said they detained 22 Iraqi citizens.

They are the latest developments in a tense standoff on the eastern frontier of Poland, which is also the eastern edge of both the European Union and NATO.

The EU accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating a large movement of migrants from the Middle East to the border in retaliation for sanctions on his repressive rule.


Belarus denies the allegations, but had warned in the summer that it will no longer stop migrants and others seeking to enter the EU.

Many of the migrants are now stuck in makeshift camps in freezing weather as Poland has reinforced its border with 15,000 soldiers in addition to border guards and police in an attempt to stop migrants and refugees from entering the country.

Most are fleeing conflict, poverty or hopelessness in Syria and Iraq and hope to reach Germany or elsewhere in western Europe.

Poland’s Border Guard agency said it has recorded over 33,000 illegal attempts to cross its border from Belarus so far this year, up from some 120 last year.

Some people are known to make multiple attempts, and German authorities said that they have recorded more than 9,000 arrivals of migrants who have come through Belarus.

Polish police have also been detaining people suspected of smuggling the migrants, with two citizens of Georgia, one Pole and one Syrian detained on Saturday.

Poland’s Interior Ministry said it is also seeking to dispel rumors among migrants that Poland has agreed to transport the migrants to Germany on Monday.

The government said it is sending security alerts in English to peoples’ phones in the area saying: “It’s a total lie and nonsense! Poland will continue to protect its border with Belarus.”
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
'Europe's last dictator' raises the stakes with the West
For most of his 27 years as the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has disdained democratic norms, making his country a pariah in the West and bringing him the sobriquet of “Europe’s last dictator."
By JIM HEINTZ Associated Press
14 November 2021, 06:30

FILE - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks to the media at a polling station after voting during the presidential election in Minsk, Belarus on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. For most of his 27 years as the authoritarian president of Belarus, Al

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The Associated Press
FILE - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks to the media at a polling station after voting during the presidential election in Minsk, Belarus on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. For most of his 27 years as the authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has disdained democratic norms, making his country a pariah in the West and bringing him the sobriquet of “Europe’s last dictator." Now, his belligerence is directly affecting Europe. (AP Photo, File)

MOSCOW -- For most of his 27 years as Belarus’ authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko’s repressions and truculent statements frequently offended the West. This year, that belligerence is directly affecting Europe.

His government forcefully diverted an airliner flying between Greece and Lithuania that was carrying a political opponent.

As the European Union imposed sanctions for that action, Belarus responded by easing its border controls for migrants from the Middle East and Africa, allowing them to head for the EU frontier.

That has forced Poland, Latvia and Lithuania to declare a state of emergency in their border zones to halt illegal crossings.

Warsaw has sent thousands of riot police and troops to bolster security, leading to tense confrontations.

Lukashenko has since raised the stakes by threatening to cut off natural gas shipments from Russia that transit Belarus — a potentially severe blow to Europe as winter settles in.

The moves are a dramatic escalation for Lukashenko, who became president in 1994 when Belarus was an obscure country that had existed less than three years.

His disdain for democratic norms and the country’s dismal human rights record has made Belarus a pariah in the West, bringing him the sobriquet of “Europe’s last dictator.”

The 67-year-old Lukashenko prefers to be styled as “Batka” — “Father” or “Dad” — a stern but wise patriarch.

Although he has made occasional moves toward rapprochement with the West, Lukashenko abandoned conciliation after massive demonstrations rose up against him in 2020 following an election to a sixth term as president. The opposition, and many in the West, rejected the outcome as rigged.

Tens of thousands of protesters were arrested, many of them beaten by police; main opposition figures either fled the country or were jailed; foreign journalists were driven out; and ordinary citizens reportedly were arrested for “unauthorized mass gatherings,” that included even birthday parties.

By suppressing opposition through such harsh actions, along with keeping much of the economy under state control, Belarus has become a neo-Soviet outlier, wary of its thriving NATO and EU neighbors. He alternately quarreled with and cozied up to Russia.

He’s noted for mercurial actions and provocative statements, which a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable assessed as outright “bizarre.”

In 2006, he threatened protesters by saying he would “wring their necks like a duck.” He also attracted uneasy notice this year in a Christmas season TV interview when he let his fluffy little dog walk on the table among the festive dishes.

His draconian dramatics spiked in May, when he ordered a Lithuania-bound Ryanair jetliner diverted to Minsk and arrested self-exiled opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich, who was aboard. Belarusian authorities said the action was taken after a bomb threat was made against the plane, but Western officials dismissed that as a preposterous attempt to disguise what they called an act of piracy.

The strapping Lukashenko presents a tough-guy image by frequently playing ice hockey, including a spring 2020 outing where he dismissed the coronavirus by asking a TV reporter if she saw any viruses “flying around” in the arena. He also advised Belarusians to “kill the virus with vodka,” go to saunas and work in the fields to avoid infection, saying “Tractors will cure everybody!”

Once well-regarded by his countrymen as an anti-corruption leader, Lukashenko lost their trust through decades of jailing opponents, stifling independent media and holding elections that gave him term after term in power.

Protests had broken out after some of the balloting, but not sizable or sustained enough to long withstand club-swinging police and mass detentions. Only after the 2020 vote did his opponents seem to harness the discontent: The economic deterioration and Lukashenko’s cavalier refusal to act against COVID-19 added to their long-term dismay.

The protests lasted for months, petering out only when winter set in. But authorities didn’t let up, reportedly arresting people for no obvious cause or on pretenses such as wearing clothing in the red-and-white colors of the opposition.

Lukashenko was born in a Belarusian village and followed a conventional path for an ambitious provincial Soviet. After graduating from an agricultural academy, he became a political instructor in the border guard service and eventually rose to director of a collective farm. In 1990, he became a member of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet, the republic’s parliament.

He was its only member in 1991 to vote against the dissolution of the Soviet Union. When he won the new country’s first presidential election three years later, he appeared in many ways to be stuck in time, keeping Belarus as an eerie and dysfunctional Soviet vestige.

While neighboring ex-Soviet republics adapted to capitalism, Lukashenko kept much of the Belarusian economy under state control. That initially won him support because Belarusians did not suffer the pain of “shock therapy” economic restructuring.

But ossified state control of industries couldn't keep up with the market's energy and flexibility; the Belarusian ruble was forced into repeated devaluations, and as of 2020, the average monthly wage was a paltry $480.

The country’s main security agency retained its symbolically baleful acronym of KGB. He also pushed a referendum that made the new national flag nearly identical to the one Belarus used as a Soviet republic.

Belarus still has capital punishment, unlike every other country in Europe, even echoing Soviet show-trial executions that take about two minutes in all: The prisoner is reportedly brought to a room, told all appeals have been rejected, forced to kneel and then shot in the back of the head.

When Lukashenko became president, Belarus had little experience of being an independent country; as a Soviet republic, it had been a piece of other empires with only a brief attempt at sovereignty after World War I. Sandwiched between Russia to the east and reformist, Western-looking Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, Belarus was in a strategic position.

Lukashenko leaned strongly east. In 1997, he signed an agreement with Russia on forming a “union state” of close economic, military and political ties, but stopped short of a full merger.

The agreement bolstered the economy in Belarus, which depends heavily on Russian oil at below-market prices. But Lukashenko harbored beliefs that Russia aimed to eventually take over Belarus entirely, and he was increasingly vocal about them.

As protests roiled the country in 2020 and Western pressure increased, Lukashenko had nowhere to turn for help but Moscow. Putin said he would be willing to send police to Belarus if demonstrations turned violent, but he never made that move.

This year, Lukashenko and Putin announced a broad range of agreements to solidify the union state, including a joint military doctrine. Although the agreements substantially increase Russia’s influence in Belarus, Lukashenko also gains assurance of support.

'Europe's last dictator' raises the stakes with the West - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Poland-Belarus border crisis: Iraq to start repatriating citizens
Thousands of migrants are stuck at the Poland-Belarus border in dire conditions. Meanwhile, the UAE is stopping Afghan, Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi citizens from boarding flights from Dubai to Minsk.



Migrants huddle around a fire at a makeshift camp in freezing conditions on the Belarusian border
Iraq said repatriation flights will begin on Thursday as migrants stuck at the border of Poland and Belarus face dire conditions in makeshift camps

The government of Iraq said Monday it will begin arranging the first repatriation flight for citizens wishing to leave Belarus.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahaf told local media that the first flight would be scheduled on Thursday.

"Iraq will carry out a first flight for those who wish to return voluntarily on the 18th," he told Iraqi television.

Iraqi Airlines suspended its service between Baghdad and Minsk in August. However, it has now been authorized to operate one-way flights from Minsk to Baghdad in response to those who found themselves stuck at the border, according to an airline spokesperson.


Watch video02:00
Migrants stuck in political battle at Belarusian-Polish border
Afghan nationals added to list of banned passengers

On Sunday the national carrier of Belarus announced that it would be barring citizens from Iraq, Syria, Yemen from flights leaving from Dubai to Minsk. Afghan nationals have also been added to the list of countries Belavia airlines has banned from flights.

In a statement on its website Belavia airlines stated: "According to the decision of the competent authorities of UAE please note that starting from 14.11.2021 citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria will not be accepted for boarding on flights from Dubai to Minsk. In this regard, Belavia is strengthening documents verification during check-in for flights from Dubai."

The airline also denied facillitating the "transportation of illegal migrants to the Republic of Belarus."

On Friday Turkey's aviation authority announced that it would not be allowing travelers from Iraq, Syria or Yemen to travel on flights to Belarus from its airports. The decision was warmly received by EU leadership.

The European Union is expected to ramp up pressure on Belarus by expanding sanctions, and may include airlines and travel agents involved in transporting migrants to Europe.

Watch video02:07
EU to widen Belarus sanctions over border crisis
Migrants face grim conditions at the border

As European leaders attempt to cut routes of travel, thousands of migrants who are caught in limbo between the Poland and Belarus, have been facing nightmarish conditions at the border.

Those stuck at the border have limited food and water or medical supplies and each night endure plummeting temperatures.

Despite the humanitarian crisis on its border, Poland is not relenting.

DW correspondent Barbara Wesel said that Poland's leadership appear to be avoiding the developing humanitarian crisis on its border. “They don’t comment on the humanitarian situation on the border, they more or less are denying it. They passed last week in parliament an ordinance that makes push-backs legal according to Polish law, so that’s what they try to do," Wesel said.

Empowered by Polish law, border guards continue to return groups of migrants attempting to make their way into the country with the help of infrared cameras.

"People they catch on the border regions who have managed to cross the border, if they come upon border guards, they will be pushed back onto Belarus territory, so this game back and forth, back and forth goes on with horrible conqequences,” Wesel added.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Belarus Leader Asks Russia To Station Nuclear-Capable Missiles Near Poland & Ukraine
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
SUNDAY, NOV 14, 2021 - 11:30 PM
With Belarus' longtime strongman ruler Alexander Lukashenko in the international spotlight over this past week as tensions soar with Poland over the migrant border crisis, he's been touting his close relationship with Putin while also threatening to shut off the Yamal natural gas pipeline to Europe - something which Putin warned against in fresh statements this weekend.

The threat to shut off energy supplies to Europe is something the Kremlin has distanced itself from, given especially it puts Russia in an awkward position at a moment the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is in the last hurdles of German regulatory approval. The Belarus matter can now be use by critics of NS2 to further their argument that Russia is being handed too much geopolitical and resource leverage over Europe's energy independence. The fight over the Russia-to-Germany pipeline is not over.

Despite Putin cautioning Minsk as the row with Europe rapidly escalates, Lukashenko is asking for more, as Reuters reports over the weekend: "Pesident of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko wants Russian nuclear-capable Iskander missile systems to deploy in the south and west of the country, he said in an interview with a Russian defense magazine published on Saturday."

"I need several divisions in the west and the south, let them stand (there)," Lukashenko was quoted as saying. Reuters summarized further of the hugely provocative request:
Lukashenko told National Defense magazine that he needed the Iskander mobile ballistic missile system, which has a range of up to 500 kilometers (311 miles) and can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads.
Despite the Kremlin not commenting on the statements when pressed by Western reporters, there's little doubt that it's the most inconvenient moment possible to open up such a discussion as provocative as nuclear weapons - again given it appears Russia is trying to distance itself from some of Belarus' leaders' most outlandish statements.

It should be noted that Lukashenko floated the idea of deploying the nuke-capable systems "in the south and west" of Belarus. Crucially, the countries lying to the west of Belarus are EU members Poland and Lithuania, and to the south lies NATO-friendly Ukraine.
Iskander missile system, via The National Interest
While Russia and Belarus remain part of a closely cooperative "union state" - such an action as Russia transferring such weaponry to Belarus would without doubt trigger a crisis on par with the 2014 Crimean crisis, and potentially leading to war with NATO.
17,548106
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
NATO chief wary of Russian military moves near Ukraine
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is urging Russia to be more transparent about its military activities near Ukraine
By LORNE COOK Associated Press
15 November 2021, 11:01

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the Danish parliament at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the Nordic Council meeting on Wednesday Nov. 3, 2021. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

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The Associated Press
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at the Danish parliament at Christiansborg Castle in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the Nordic Council meeting on Wednesday Nov. 3, 2021. (Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

BRUSSELS -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia on Monday to be more transparent about its military activities near Ukraine but he stopped short of suggesting that Moscow might be preparing to invade its former Soviet neighbor.

Ukraine claims that Russia kept tens of thousands of troops and equipment near their common border after conducting war games earlier this year. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and has supported a separatist insurgency that broke out that year in eastern Ukraine and still controls territory there
.

The United States has warned the European Union to be wary of Russia’s intentions, but EU diplomats say that while they have noticed Moscow’s military buildup, they do not believe that Russia might launch action anytime soon.

“We call on Russia to be transparent about its military activities,” Stoltenberg told reporters after talks in Brussels with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. “It is important to prevent escalations and reduce tensions.”

Asked whether he fears a possible invasion, Stoltenberg said: “what we see is a significant, large Russian military build-up.

We see an unusual concentration of troops. And we know that Russia has been willing to use these types of military capabilities before to conduct aggressive actions against Ukraine.”

“I think it’s important also that we don’t now increase tensions, but we have to be clear-eyed, we need to be realistic about the challenges we face,” he said.

Ukraine’s defense ministry claims that about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed not far from their border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine’s east. It said units of the Russian 41st army have remained in Yelnya, a town 260 kilometers (about 160 miles) north of the Ukrainian border.

Kuleba said “we have to be ready for all scenarios, for all options,” and he called for help from the 30-country military organization “to strengthen the resilience of Ukraine.”

In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of Germany and France warned Russia against taking any military action in Ukraine.

“Against the backdrop of renewed concerns about Russian movements of troops and hardware near Ukraine, we call on Russia to adopt a posture of restraint and provide transparent information about its military activities. Any new attempt to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity would have serious consequences,” the ministers said.

The ministers, Heiko Maas and Jean-Yves Le Drian, also urged Ukraine “to maintain a posture of restraint” and said they regret Russia's refusal to meet with them in the “Normandy format;” a reference to the group that France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine organized to settle the long-running conflict.

———

Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

NATO chief wary of Russian military moves near Ukraine - ABC News (go.com)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB



UK police release 4 men held over Liverpool taxi bombing
an hour ago


Head of Counterterrorism Policing North West Russ Jackson, left and Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy take part in  a press conference after an incident outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday, at Merseyside Police Headquarters, in Liverpool, England Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. British police say an explosion in a taxi outside a hospital that killed a man is being treated as a terrorist incident, but the motive remains unclear. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)
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Head of Counterterrorism Policing North West Russ Jackson, left and Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy take part in a press conference after an incident outside the Liverpool Women's Hospital on Sunday, at Merseyside Police Headquarters, in Liverpool, England Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. British police say an explosion in a taxi outside a hospital that killed a man is being treated as a terrorist incident, but the motive remains unclear. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — British police have released four men arrested under terrorism laws by detectives investigating a homemade bomb explosion in a Liverpool taxi, as they work to understand the motives of the suspected bomber, who died in the blast.

Police have named the bomber as 32-year-old Emad Al Swealmeen, who came to Britain as an asylum-seeker several years ago and had converted to Christianity in 2017.

Al Swealmeen was killed and a taxi driver injured when a blast ripped through the vehicle as it pulled up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday morning.

Police have called the blast a terrorist act, but say they are still working to determine the motive.

Four men in their 20s who had been detained under the Terrorism Act were released late Monday. Russ Jackson, the head of counterterrorism policing for northwest England, said that “following interviews with the arrested men, we are satisfied with the accounts they have provided and they have been released from police custody.”


Jackson said that police now had “a much greater understanding of the component parts of the device, how they were obtained and how the parts are likely to have been assembled.”

But he said “there is a considerable way to go to understand how this incident was planned, prepared for and how it happened.”

Britain’s official threat level was raised from substantial to severe — meaning an attack is highly likely — following the blast, the U.K.’s second fatal incident in a month. Conservative lawmaker David Amess was stabbed to death in October in what police said was an act of terrorism.

See this thread also:

 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

German Regulators Suspend Nord Stream 2 Approval; European Gas Prices Surge
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
TUESDAY, NOV 16, 2021 - 07:20 AM
European natural gas prices surged as much as 12% Tuesday after Germany's energy regulator unexpectedly suspended a key steop in the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. According to Bloomberg, the Federal Network Agency halted the Nord Stream certification process necessary to pump natgas directly from Russia into Germany. It was initially expected the certification would've been completed in early 2022, but that now appears to be unlikely.

The move comes as Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the pipeline, decided to set up a German subsidiary in a bid to meet European Union rules requiring gas producers to be legally separate from entities transporting the fuel. Russia’s Gazprom PJSC is the owner of Nord Stream 2.

The German regulator said the entity "must then meet the requirements of the Energy Industry Act for an independent transport network operator." It added, "the certification process remains suspended."

The announcement sent benchmark European gas prices surging as traders fear the decision means Europe won’t get much needed gas to ease tight supplies this winter. Dutch month-ahead gas, the European benchmark, soared as high as 12% to above 88 euros a megawatt-hour.

“If one believes that flows could only start after certification has been completed, this means that flows via Nord Stream 2 will be further delayed, with negative implications for European gas balance over winter,” said Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

The timing of the suspension comes at the worst possible moment. Europe faces a massive energy crunch as natgas stockpiles are the lowest in a decade just as Europe faces its first cold winter blast. Widespread below-average temperatures continue to plague parts of the continent, as the following chart of NW Europe Heating Degree Days shows.

Meanwhile, Europe's natgas storage levels are the lowest since 2013.


The suspension deprives Europe of fresh supplies upwards of 55bn cubic meters of gas per year transited in an undersea pipeline across the Baltic Sea from Gazprom facilities in Russia to Germany then distributed throughout Europe, effectively bypassing pipelines running through Ukraine.

James Waddell at Energy Aspects, a consultancy, told FT, "any remaining hopes that this pipeline would be available for the winter are completely dashed now."
"Increasingly, it's looking like it may not start up until the second half of next year.
"The lack of gas in storage and the lack of Russian supplies mean we essentially have to cut into industrial demand in order to preserve crucial gas supplies for the power and heat networks. Europe is having to heavily reduce industrial gas demand in a way we haven't seen in decades," Waddell said.
Meanwhile, perhaps sensing that Europe's was going to make things complicated, late on Monday Goldman Sachs' Samantha Dart wrote that "today's auction of Yamal pipeline capacity for December points to no bookings from Gazprom, vs our 45 mcm/d expected." And while "booking volumes do not guarantee flow, as illustrated by Yamal flows for October and thus far in November at 14 mcm/d and 10 mcm/d, respectively, vs bookings at just over 30 mcm/d for both months" she added that the lack of bookings "keeps supply uncertainty elevated into the end of the year."

Delaying Nord Stream 2's certification indefinitely, especially if coupled with further Russian supply cuts, could be a disaster for Europe which is now facing the first cold blast of the season, as energy inflation and supply chain disruptions due to the energy crisis and pandemic could metastasis into a "winter of discontent," fueling socio-economic instabilities. As much as European officials oppose the pipeline and want energy independence from Russia, the continent desperately needs Gazprom to survive this winter.
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

German Regulators Suspend Nord Stream 2 Approval; European Gas Prices Surge
Tyler Durden's Photo's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
TUESDAY, NOV 16, 2021 - 07:20 AM
European natural gas prices surged as much as 12% Tuesday after Germany's energy regulator unexpectedly suspended a key steop in the approval process for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. According to Bloomberg, the Federal Network Agency halted the Nord Stream certification process necessary to pump natgas directly from Russia into Germany. It was initially expected the certification would've been completed in early 2022, but that now appears to be unlikely.

The move comes as Nord Stream 2 AG, the operator of the pipeline, decided to set up a German subsidiary in a bid to meet European Union rules requiring gas producers to be legally separate from entities transporting the fuel. Russia’s Gazprom PJSC is the owner of Nord Stream 2.

The German regulator said the entity "must then meet the requirements of the Energy Industry Act for an independent transport network operator." It added, "the certification process remains suspended."

The announcement sent benchmark European gas prices surging as traders fear the decision means Europe won’t get much needed gas to ease tight supplies this winter. Dutch month-ahead gas, the European benchmark, soared as high as 12% to above 88 euros a megawatt-hour.

“If one believes that flows could only start after certification has been completed, this means that flows via Nord Stream 2 will be further delayed, with negative implications for European gas balance over winter,” said Katja Yafimava, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

The timing of the suspension comes at the worst possible moment. Europe faces a massive energy crunch as natgas stockpiles are the lowest in a decade just as Europe faces its first cold winter blast. Widespread below-average temperatures continue to plague parts of the continent, as the following chart of NW Europe Heating Degree Days shows.

Meanwhile, Europe's natgas storage levels are the lowest since 2013.


The suspension deprives Europe of fresh supplies upwards of 55bn cubic meters of gas per year transited in an undersea pipeline across the Baltic Sea from Gazprom facilities in Russia to Germany then distributed throughout Europe, effectively bypassing pipelines running through Ukraine.

James Waddell at Energy Aspects, a consultancy, told FT, "any remaining hopes that this pipeline would be available for the winter are completely dashed now."

Meanwhile, perhaps sensing that Europe's was going to make things complicated, late on Monday Goldman Sachs' Samantha Dart wrote that "today's auction of Yamal pipeline capacity for December points to no bookings from Gazprom, vs our 45 mcm/d expected." And while "booking volumes do not guarantee flow, as illustrated by Yamal flows for October and thus far in November at 14 mcm/d and 10 mcm/d, respectively, vs bookings at just over 30 mcm/d for both months" she added that the lack of bookings "keeps supply uncertainty elevated into the end of the year."

Delaying Nord Stream 2's certification indefinitely, especially if coupled with further Russian supply cuts, could be a disaster for Europe which is now facing the first cold blast of the season, as energy inflation and supply chain disruptions due to the energy crisis and pandemic could metastasis into a "winter of discontent," fueling socio-economic instabilities. As much as European officials oppose the pipeline and want energy independence from Russia, the continent desperately needs Gazprom to survive this winter.
Some really bad juju gonna come from this!
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

European Parliament Demands Freeze of EU Recovery Money for Poland

By Reuters Nov. 16, 2021, at 9:46 a.m. Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Peter Graff

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The main political groups in the European Parliament have written jointly to the European Commission, demanding it freeze billions of euros in recovery money for Poland until Warsaw respects the rule of law and the primacy of EU law.

In a letter, the centre-right People's Party, centre-left Socialists, liberal Renew Europe, the Greens and the United Left said Poland's nationalist government could not be trusted to meet obligations that come with EU cash.

The five groups account for more than three quarters of deputies in the European Parliament. The only groups that did not sign were the far right and eurosceptic blocs.

"We demand that the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, refrains from approving the Polish recovery plan until all conditions under the Recovery and Resilience Regulation are met," the letter from the five parliamentary groups said.
Since Poland's eurosceptic PiS party took power in late 2015, Warsaw has been at odds with the EU over changes introduced to its legal system, which EU institutions say violate the independence of courts.

The Commission has sued Poland and won judgments in European courts, but Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, now completely dominated by ruling party appointees, has ruled that Polish laws can take primacy over EU laws. EU officials say this undermines the legal basis of the European Union.

At stake is 23.9 billion euros in grants and 12.1 billion in cheap loans from the EU's recovery fund that Warsaw could get to rebuild the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

But to get the money it has to meet several criteria, including respect for the rule of law. The European Parliament's letter will put additional political pressure on the Commission not to release the funds until Poland yields in the dispute.
 

northern watch

Has No Life - Lives on TB
Top EU court hits Hungary over 'Stop Soros' migrant law
The European Union’s top court says Hungary broke EU law by making it a criminal offense to help migrants apply for asylum
By LORNE COOK Associated Press
16 November 2021, 05:19

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Chairman of the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party, addresses the 29th congress of Fidesz in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The inscription reads: For us Hungary is first. (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

Image Icon
The Associated Press
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Chairman of the ruling Hungarian Fidesz party, addresses the 29th congress of Fidesz in Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. The inscription reads: "For us Hungary is first". (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI via AP)

BRUSSELS -- The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that Hungary broke EU law by making it a criminal offense for people or organizations to help migrants and refugees apply for asylum, in a new legal blow to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government.

Hungary erected a razor-wire barrier on its border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015 as well over 1 million people, most fleeing conflict in Syria, entered the EU, often from Turkey via Greece. Tens of thousands moved north, deeper into the EU, in search of sanctuary and better lives.

As more people arrived, Orban began to accuse Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros and groups linked to him of encouraging the migrants. In 2018, Hungary's government introduced legislation known as the “Stop Soros” laws that would make it an offense to help people apply for asylum
.

The European Court of Justice said Hungary had failed to fulfill its EU obligations “by criminalizing, in its national law, the actions of any person who, in connection with an organizing activity, provides assistance in respect of the making or lodging of an application for asylum in its territory."

The Luxembourg-based court said the legislation restricts “the right of access to applicants for international protection and the right to communicate with those persons,” as well as the right of the migrants themselves to consult a legal advisor or counselor.

The court said the law cannot be justified by the aim of preventing “the assistance of misuse of the asylum procedure and of illegal immigration based on deception.”

The ECJ also found that Hungary had failed to respect EU rules when its authorities rejected an application for asylum because the person had arrived from another member nation when their life or well-being was not in danger.

Human rights group Amnesty International welcomed the verdict, saying it “sends an unequivocal message that the Hungarian government’s campaign of intimidation, targeting those who stand up for the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers cannot, and will not be tolerated.”

“It is now time for the Hungarian government to implement the court’s decision and immediately withdraw this piece of shameful legislation," Amnesty's Hungary director, David Vig, said.

Orban is a steadfast opponent of immigration and has portrayed his country as a bulwark against migration from the Middle East and Africa and a defender of Christianity in Europe.

Hungary's treatment of migrants and refugees has brought it into frequent conflict with many of its EU partners and the European Commission, which as the bloc's executive branch supervises the application of European rules and regulations.

The commission said last Friday that it was referring Hungary to the European Court of Justice for failing to amend its asylum procedures in line with a previous court ruling. The EU Commission recommended a lump- sum fine plus daily penalties until Budapest complies.

The referral came after the court found in December that Hungary had failed to respect EU law by denying people entering the country without authorization the right to apply for asylum and by unlawfully detaining them in “transit zones” on the country's border with Serbia.

———

Follow AP's coverage of migration issues at Migration

Top EU court hits Hungary over 'Stop Soros' migrant law - ABC News (go.com)
 

Zagdid

Veteran Member

16 NOV, 10:36
Serbian president thanks Russia for delivery of T-72MS tanks
Russia earlier handed over 30 T-72MS tanks and 30 BRDM-2MS armored personnel carriers worth 75 million euros to Serbia

BELGRADE, November 16. /TASS/. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said during his tour of the armaments exhibition on the occasion of Army Day that he was grateful to Russia for the delivery of military hardware to the republic, in particular, T-72MS tanks.

"We have received this from Russians. [Russian Defense Minister] Sergey Shoigu recently handed over this hardware to us. The hardware was transferred in Nis. Indeed, we are grateful to our Russian friends that they have sent it [the materiel] to us. These tanks [T-72MS] have special protection and the transfer took place in Nis," Vucic said.

The president asked Serbian tank crews about their opinion about the Russian armor. "This is the best tank in the world," a Serbian armored corps officer said.

Russia earlier handed over 30 T-72MS tanks and 30 BRDM-2MS armored personnel carriers worth 75 million euros to Serbia. Vucic also said that the first batch of Kornet anti-tank missile systems would arrive in Serbia from Russia by the end of the year.

From 2018 to February 2020, Russia handed over to Serbia four Russian-made Mi-35M helicopters, six MiG-29 fighter jets, ten BRDM-2 reconnaissance and patrol armored vehicles, three Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters, and also Pantsyr-S1 air defense missile/gun systems as part of its military and technical assistance to the Balkan country.

As then-Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin earlier told TASS, the combat potential of the republic’s army had strengthened substantially thanks to Belgrade’s military and technical cooperation with Moscow.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

France: Decathlon halts canoe sales to curb migrant crossings
The purchases will no longer be possible in certain stores in northern France. On Friday three migrants were reported missing after trying to cross the channel in canoes.



Decathlon Shop in Paris
In-store purchases of canoes has been banned in Calais and Grande-Synthe due to the current climate

Sports shop Decathlon has announced it will no longer sell canoes in northern France to help put a stop to migrants desperately trying to cross the English Channel, it was reported on Tuesday.

"The purchase of canoes will no longer be possible" in retail outlets in Calais and Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, "given the current context," Decathlon told news agency AFP, confirming French media reports that emerged earlier on Tuesday.


Watch video03:04
More migrants attempt journey across English Channel
'Lives endangered' Decathlon says

The decision was made as the canoes were not being used for their intended purpose, and lives were at risk, the sports equipment retailer said.

"People's lives" have been "endangered," by their inappropriate use, Decathlon said.

According to the retailer, the stores in the north of the country made the decision themselves to stop selling the canoes and Decathlon management had agreed with their reasoning.

The canoes will continue to be available online and in stores elsewhere in France. Other safety equipment, such as life-jackets and thermal protection, will still be sold in the Calais and Grande-Synthe outlets.

Last Friday, three migrants were reported missing after trying to cross the channel using canoes. This came 24 hours after two canoes were found adrift off Calais, with two individuals rescued from the water.

Migrant crossings continue to soar
A record number of migrants crossed the channel in small boats last Thursday — 1,185 according to figures in the UK — which the British government said was "unacceptable."
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin spoke to his British counterpart Priti Patel on Monday, but only after giving an interview in which he said Britain should "stop using us as a punch-ball in their domestic politics."

In the whole of 2020, some 9,500 people made the hazardous journey across the English Channel, or at least attempted to do so, compared to 2,300 in 2019 and 600 in 2018.
This year's numbers have soared further still, despite the risks. By the end of August, that figure had already reached 15,000 for 2021.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Estonia Orders Snap Military Drill, Calls Up Reservists To Fortify Border With Russia
Tyler Durden's Photo

BY TYLER DURDEN
THURSDAY, NOV 18, 2021 - 04:15 AM
The Baltic European Union country of Estonia has ordered previously unannounced military exercises along its border with Russia, at a moment Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to its south are locked in a standoff with Belarus over the migrant crisis.
The drills are being interpreted in part as an act of solidarity with Poland and meant to send a message to Belarus and its main geopolitical backer Russia. In particular military reservists are being called up to fortify the border, just like is happening with Estonia's EU allies, as Reuters reports, "The Estonian government summoned 1,700 reserve soldiers on Wednesday for an unannounced exercise which will include installing a razor wire barrier along 40 km of its border with Russia, as the migration crisis in nearby Belarus intensifies."


For the past week Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have had states of emergencies in place at their borders with Belarus, allowing additional forces and reserve units to be called up, as the situation shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Belarus and by extension Russia have been accused of orchestrating a crisis which has seen thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants camped out at key border crossings near northeast Poland, which has included scenes of throngs of migrants trying to forcibly break through the border fence. This has in recent days led to Polish police deployment of riot control measures from the other side of the crossing.

Commenting on the snap Estonian drills, the country's chief over national Police and Border Guard units Elmar Vaher said, "What is happening in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia also requires the strengthening of the border infrastructure in Estonia."

But given Estonia does not share a border with Belarus, it simply appears a political move to put continued pressure on Russia, at a moment Belarus has come under fresh EU sanctions over the crisis. Russian airlines (Aeroflot in particular) have also been targeted amid accusations they've helped Belarusian carriers in transporting migrants from the Middle East for the sole purpose of sending them to the Polish border for the standoff.

Meanwhile, on the Poland-Belarus border...

View: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1461080486344855560?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1461080486344855560%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fgeopolitical%2Festonia-orders-snap-military-drill-calls-reservists-fortify-border-russia



"The drill, which is planned to last until November 25, was called to test the national chain of command’s swift response, according to the Estonian government," Reuters details further.

"The reserve solders will assist in the installation of 40 kilometers of razor wire along the Russian border, where the dangers of unlawful crossings are greatest, according to a statement issued by Estonian police and border guard," notes the report.



Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia and Russia relations have remained icy, particularly since tiny Estonia's admission as a full member of NATO. Tensions also rise on occasions when Russian military planes fly near or into Estonian airspace, alerting NATO command
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Armenia reports 6 soldiers killed in clashes with Azerbaijan
Russia is monitoring a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but tensions over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have risen this week.



Armenian soldiers at the border with Azerbaijan
Armenia described the situation on the border as 'relatively stable' on Friday morning

Armenia's Defense Ministry said Friday that six Armenian soldiers were killed in border clashes with Azerbaijan on November 16.

According to the ministry, Azerbaijani soldiers opened indiscriminate fire at the border, resulting in return fire. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan blamed Armenia for the bombardment of several villages.

What is the state of the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a ceasefire on Tuesday, which is being monitored by Russian peacekeepers. The latest clashes also ended after Russian mediation.

Fighting had broken out on Monday in at least two points on Armenia’s eastern border region with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan also confirmed the death of seven of its soldiers in a statement on Tuesday. Both sides accused each other of using small arms and artillery.

The EU was "deeply concerned over the recent violence along the Armenia-Azerbaijani border, which has regrettably led to loss of life," foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano said in a written statement Wednesday.
Infographic showing the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh

What is the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh?
In a short war in autumn of 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured parts of Nagorno-Karabakh previously controled by Armenia. The region has long been contested between the two former Soviet states.

The six-week conflict left 250,000 people displaced.

On November 10, a peace deal brokered by Russia handed several regions to Azerbaijan.
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

Rotterdam shaken by riots over planned coronavirus curbs
Riot police clashed with stone-throwing rioters in the Dutch port city after hundreds gathered to oppose stricter anti-coronavirus measures. Police said at least seven people were wounded after warning shots were fired.



An object set ablaze in a public square in Rotterdam
Demonstrations against new coronavirus curbs grew out of control on Friday evening in Rotterdam

A demonstration with several hundred people in the Netherlands' second-largest city turned violent Friday evening with rioters setting fire to cars and clashing with riot police.

Police said they fired water cannons and warning shots to disperse rioters, and at least seven people were wounded. At least 20 people have been arrested so far.

"We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening," police spokesperson Patricia Wessels told Reuters news agency.

Police have not commented on the state of those injured, but said their officers were also wounded.

Dutch broadcaster NOS said at least one police car was set on fire and others were damaged. Police officers and firefighters were also pelted with objects.

Images posted on social media showed cars on fire, fireworks being ignited, and debris and trash bins on fire in the street and rioters throwing stones and fireworks at police.

Authorities shut down public transportation in the city, closed the main train station and ordered people to go home.
A large gathering in central Rotterdam
The demonstrations began when hundreds of people gathered near Coolsingel street in central Rotterdam

How have authorities reacted?
Local political party Leefbar Rotterdam condemned the violence in a tweet, saying the "center of our beautiful city has this evening transformed into a war zone."

"Rotterdam is a city where you can disagree with things that happen but violence is never, never, the solution," the tweet read.

Rotterdam's mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said the riots were an "orgy of violence." He told reporters that violence forced officers to "draw a police weapon in the end to defend themselves."

Why were people demonstrating?
A demonstration had been called by several organizations in opposition to a government plan to restrict access to indoor venues to people who have a "corona pass" proving they are vaccinated or have recovered from COVID.

Last week, the Netherlands partially reimposed lockdown measures to slow a resurgence of the virus, with daily infection numbers at some of their highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic.

Last January, when a curfew was imposed in the Netherlands, riots in several cities caused millions of euros in damage.
wmr,rm/wd (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)
 

Plain Jane

Has No Life - Lives on TB

COVID curbs spark protests worldwide
Anger is mounting in Europe and elsewhere at renewed coronavirus restrictions brought in by governments in a bid to tackle another wave of infections. Far-right groups have taken part in some demonstrations.



a group of protesters wearing black hold a banner that says 'control the borders, not your people'
Far-right groups attended protests against coronavirus restrictions in Austria on Saturday
Thousands took to the streets across Europe and Australia on Saturday to protest fresh rounds of COVID restrictions.

Several countries have recently reintroduced tighter measures in a bid to combat a resurgent wave of infections.

Austria on Friday announced a nationwide partial lockdown — the most dramatic restrictions in Western Europe for months.

Other nations on the continent have resorted to less severe restrictions, often choosing to ban unvaccinated people from venues like restaurants and bars.
A protestor holds a flare as he walks behind an Austrian national flag
In Austria, thousands gathered in the capital city Vienna as the country announced a new lockdown

The Netherlands
In the Netherlands, rioters threw stones and fireworks at police, and set fire to bicycles as protests against coronavirus curbs turned violent for a second night in the country.

A day earlier, at least two people were injured after police fired shots at protesters and 51 were arrested at an anti-coronavirus restrictions demonstration in the city of Rotterdam.
Police arrested at least one person during a protest in The Hague.

Earlier in the day, several thousand protesters angered at the latest measures gathered in Amsterdam on Saturday. One group earlier in the day had cancelled their rally because of the previous night's violence.

In the southern city of Breda, near the Belgian border, a musical protest called by local DJs against current COVID-19 measures, which include the 8 p.m. (1900 UTC) closure of bars, restaurants and clubs, attracted a few hundred people.

The Netherlands went back into Western Europe's first partial lockdown of the winter last Saturday with at least three weeks of curbs. It is now planning to ban unvaccinated people from entering some venues.
 This photograph taken on November 20, 2021 shows a burned electric scooter after a protest against the partial lockdown and against the 2G government policy in Rotterdam.
Protests against COVID-19 restrictions in the Netherlands turned violent for the second day running

Austria
Around 35,000 protesters, many from far-right groups, marched through the Austrian capital Vienna on Saturday.

Among those protesting were members of far-right and extreme-right parties and groups, including the far-right Freedom Party, the anti-vaccine MFG party and the extreme-right Identitarians.

Police said around 1,300 officers were on duty and several protesters were detained, but didn't give specific numbers.

From Monday, 8.9 million Austrians will not be allowed to leave home except to go to work, shop for essentials and exercise. The restrictions will initially last 20 days with an evaluation after 10 days.

The government is making vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory in the country from February 1 next year.


Watch video01:49
Austria announces COVID lockdown, vaccine mandate
Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, several hundred people opposed to vaccine passports protested outside the city hall in Belfast.

The government of Northern Ireland voted this week to introduce vaccine certificates for admission to nightclubs, bars and restaurants starting December 13.

Some protesters carried signs that have been widely criticized as offensive, comparing coronavirus restrictions to the actions of Nazi Germany.

Croatia
In Croatia, thousands gathered in the capital of Zagreb. Some carried flags, nationalist and religious symbols, along with banners against vaccination and what they describe as restrictions of people's freedoms.
 People march down a street during a protest against vaccination and coronavirus measures in Zagreb
Thousands of protesters gathered in Croatia's capital Zagreb on Saturday

Italy
In Italy, 3,000 turned out in the capital's Circus Maximus to protest against "Green Pass" certificates, required at workplaces, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, sports venues and gyms, as well as for long-distance train, bus or ferry travel.

"People like us never give up," read one banner, in the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag. Almost no one wore a protective mask.
A demonstrator holds a banner reading No Green Pass, freedom during a protest at Rome's Circus Maximus
In Italy, crowds gathered to protests the country's 'Green Pass' that shows proof of vaccination
Australia
In Sydney, some 10,000 marched and there were protests in other major Australian cities against vaccine mandates applied to certain occupations by state authorities.
A man holds a sign with the words 'this is war' written on it
Around 10,000 people turned out in Sydney to protest a vaccine mandate

Denmark
In Denmark, around one thousand people protested government plans to reinstate a COVID pass for civil servants going to work.

"Freedom for Denmark," cried some of the marchers at a rally organized by the radical Men in Black group who deny the existence of the virus.

Guadeloupe
France sent a group of dozens of elite security force officers to its overseas territory of Guadeloupe on Saturday after protests against coronavirus rules turned violent.

The deployment follows almost a week of unrest on the Caribbean island which included the burning of barricades in the street.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said around 50 agents from the GIGN counter-terrorism and RAID elite tactical forces would be sent to Guadeloupe.

Although almost 70% of the population of mainland France is already fully vaccinated, in Guadeloupe the share is less than 50%.
 
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