US: Poland concerned about armed Kaliningrad - February, 2011

NATO is again concerned about about Moscow increasing its military capacity in Kaliningrad. But does Moscow have the right to be concerned about a highly armed NATO at its doorstep, a NATO that reportedly has around five hundred nuclear warheads, a NATO that has been encroaching on Russian spheres of political/economic interests for the past twenty years? Moreover, under the guise of training its military for operations in Afghanistan, London is intensifying its military cooperation with Ankara. But we know what the real reason is for this closer cooperation. For the past two centuries, the West (London and Washington in particular) has looked at Ankara as a buffer state against Russian expansion in the region. When push came to shove, as it happened periodically throughout the 19th century, Europe openly sided with the Ottomans to contain Russia. With tensions increasing throughout the Caucasus, there is a real possibility for a major regional war breaking out. Moscow has the potential to further embed itself in the region as a result of such a war. Thus, NATO's closer cooperation with Turkey is simply meant to draw a line in the sand. In other words, having more-or-less relinquished the Caucasus to Moscow, NATO is marking its territory in Turkey. Finally, political tensions over the Kuril islands has come up again. The impotent Japs should forget about the dinky little Island Russia now controls and instead worry about ridding themselves of their American occupation.

Arevordi
February, 2011

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US: Poland concerned about armed Kaliningrad

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Poland and other Eastern European countries are expressing concern to the United States about an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons believed to be at their doorsteps in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, a top U.S. diplomat for arms control said Friday.Concerns about stockpiles of tactical weapons are coming into focus now that the United States and Russia have put into effect New START, a treaty which will cut stockpiles of strategic weapons. Now the U.S. is hoping also to open preparatory talks with Russia on a possible reduction in tactical nuclear weapons, which are smaller battlefield arms such as short-range missiles, artillery shells, mines or gravity bombs. Such weapons have not yet been the subject of arms control agreements. Strategic weapons, by contrast, have a longer range or larger destructive power.

Rose Gottemoeller, the chief U.S. negotiator of New START, visited Poland, Ukraine and the three Baltic states in recent days to hear how these countries view the issue of tactical weapons. She said she has heard concerns across the region about Russian threats to build up its stockpile of tactical weapons in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory wedged between Poland and Lithuania. "There is a generalized concern about Kaliningrad and Russian propensity to, every time a concern is aroused in Moscow, to say, well, 'time to bring something else to Kaliningrad,'" said Gottemoeller, who is assistant secretary of state for arms control. "I would say it's a generalized concern among the countries of the region that I have visited this week." Russia has not said whether it has nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, but officials in neighboring countries are convinced they are there. Lithuanian Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene said this week that it's "no secret" that Russia has tactical weaponry in Kaliningrad.

Poland has expressed concerns in the past over threats by Russia to place missiles in Kaliningrad in reaction to a U.S. plan for a missile defense system in the region. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski joined the debate on New START last year with a much-cited op-ed piece hailing the treaty as important to Europe's security. He called it a "necessary stepping stone" to future reductions in tactical nuclear arsenals. "While we in Poland do not perceive an immediate military threat from Russia, most of the world's active tactical or sub-strategic nuclear weapons today seem to be deployed just east of Poland's borders, in speculative preparation for conflict in Europe," Sikorski argued. "The cataclysmic potential of such a conflict makes it essential to limit and eventually eliminate this leftover from the Cold War."

Some experts, however, note that it will be extremely difficult to persuade Russia to cut its stockpiles of tactical missiles. Russia believes that its large stock of tactical nuclear weapons balances NATO's superiority in conventional weapons, according to Jacek Durkalec, an analyst with the Polish Institute of International Affairs. "The United States possesses limited means of inducing Russian to take part in negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons," Durkalec wrote in an analytical paper published Wednesday. Gottemoeller said she disagrees with that argument and believes Russia could gain much from an arms control agreement on tactical nuclear weapons.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021102018.html

Russia Talks Tough In Dispute With Japan

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov  (right) and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara at a  meeting in Moscow.

The Russian foreign minister greeted his visiting Japanese counterpart today with defiant statements amid a spat between the two countries over disputed islands in the Pacific. As he opened talks in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov told Seiji Maehara that his visit came amid "a series of completely unacceptable actions." He was referring to a statement earlier by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who called a trip in November to the islands by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev an "unforgivable outrage." After the talks, Lavrov told Maehara that what he called Japan's "radical" stance would threaten bilateral dialogue. "When radical approaches regarding the issue of a peace treaty with Russia take the upper hand in Japan -- and that happens periodically," Lavrov said. "It becomes pointless to conduct a dialogue on the issue." Lavrov said Moscow would pump more money into the Kuriles and has invited investors from other nations, including South Korea and China, to follow suit. Maehara responded that Japan would strongly object. The Kurile islands were taken by Soviet forces at the end of World War II and claimed by Japan. The dispute has prevented the two nations from signing a formal peace treaty.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/russia_japan_kuriles/2306446.html

U.K., Turkey Near Military Accord

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The U.K. and Turkey are negotiating a military pact that would see the two European powers take part in joint exercises and share expertise, a person familiar with the matter said. The agreement underscores how the U.K., Europe's most active military, is eager to work more closely with allied militaries amid budget cuts. In October, the British government announced cuts to the military budget of 7.5% over the next four years. An accompanying Security and Defense Strategy Review placed great emphasis on alliances and partnerships to "enhance capability."

Britain hopes to have completed its memorandum of understanding with Turkey by July, this person said. Much of the deal will hinge on joint exercises. For instance, the U.K. could train helicopter pilots in Turkey, whose hot and mountainous terrain replicates Afghanistan. Further down the line, the two countries are looking at cooperating on equipment programs. One "possibility" is that the Turks would help build Britain's Type 26 Frigate, a type of naval ship due to enter service in the early 2020s. Britain also wants to offer more places to train Turkish officers at its Royal College of Defence Studies and the Turks will invite British personnel to their training courses.‬‪

A spokesman for the Turkish defense ministry couldn't be reached for comment Sunday. Turkey has one of the largest militaries in the world, with around 517,100 people across all its, mainly conscript-based, armed services, according to Jane's International Defense Review. The U.K. currently has around 178,370, ahead of expected cuts of around 17,000 jobs.‬‪ Britain has already signed a more far reaching agreement with France to form a joint expeditionary force and cooperate on developing new military technology. The country is also talking to Northern European countries, such as Norway and the Baltic states, about closer military ties.‬‪

The person familiar with the matter said such deals show how the U.K. can cooperate with European armies without going through a supranational body like the European Union. The deal also highlights a desire by the U.K. to court Turkey. Senior Conservative party officials such as Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary William Hague have long championed the country's ambition to enter the European Union. Mr. Fox said he believes that Europe risks alienating a friendly secular Muslim country that is a key ally in Middle Eastern politics.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704657104576142374229513638.html

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