March 30, 2014

Der Spiegel: NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/article/2014/03/29/der-spiegel-nsa-ghcq-hacked-german-companies-put-merkel-list-122-targeted-leaders/

By Ryan Gallagher 29 Mar 2014, 10:07 AM EDT 173
Featured photo - Der Spiegel: NSA Put Merkel on List of 122 Targeted Leaders German Chancellor Angela Merkel uses her mobile phone in Berlin in 2011. (AP File Photo/Gero Breloer)

Secret documents newly disclosed by the German newspaper Der Spiegel on Saturday shed more light on how aggressively the National Security Agency and its British counterpart have targeted Germany for surveillance.

A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also seen by The Intercept, reveal that the NSA appears to have included Merkel in a surveillance database alongside more than 100 others foreign leaders. The documents also confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff.

Der Spiegel, which has already sketched out over several stories the vast extent of American and British targeting of German people and institutions, broke the news last October that Merkel’s cellphone calls were being tapped by the NSA – sparking a diplomatic backlash that strained US-Germany relations. Now a new document, dated 2009, indicates that Merkel was targeted in a broader NSA surveillance effort. She appears to have been placed in the NSA’s so-called “Target Knowledge Base“ (TKB), which Der Spiegel described as the central agency database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze “complete profiles“ of targeted people.

A classified file demonstrating an NSA search system named Nymrod shows Merkel listed alongside other heads of state. Only 11 names are shown on the document, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko, and Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe – the list is in alphabetical order by first name – but it indicates that the full list contains 122 names. The NSA uses the Nymrod system to “find information relating to targets that would otherwise be tough to track down,” according to internal NSA documents. Nymrod sifts through secret reports based on intercepted communications as well as full transcripts of faxes, phone calls, and communications collected from computer systems. More than 300 “cites” for Merkel are listed as available in intelligence reports and transcripts for NSA operatives to read.

But the NSA’s surveillance of Germany has extended far beyond its leader. Der Spiegel reporters Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark – together with The Intercept’s Laura Poitras – described a separate document from the NSA’s Special Source Operations unit, which shows that the Obama administration obtained a top-secret court order specifically permitting it to monitor communications related to Germany. Special Source Operations is the NSA department that manages what the agency describes as its “corporate partnerships” with major US companies, including AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, and Google. The order on Germany was issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on March 7, 2013. The court issues annual certifications to the NSA that authorize the agency to intercept communications related to named countries or groups; it has provided similar authorization, Der Spiegel reported, for measures targeting China, Mexico, Japan, Venezuela, Yemen, Brazil, Sudan, Guatemala, Bosnia and Russia.

The NSA on Friday declined to comment to The Intercept about its role in conducting surveillance of Germany and deferred questions to the National Security Council and the Justice Department. The DOJ had not responded at the time of publication. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told The Intercept that the Obama administration was “not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.” However, Hayden did not deny that the surveillance had occurred in the past – and declined to rule out spying on other senior German officials going forward. “We have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” she said.

The secret files reveal some specific German targets – none of whom appear to have been suspected of any wrongdoing. One undated document shows how British GCHQ operatives hacked into the computer servers of the German satellite communications providers Stellar and Cetel, and also targeted IABG, a security contractor and communications equipment provider with close ties to the German government. The document outlines how GCHQ identified these companies’ employees and customers, making lists of emails that identified network engineers and chief executives. It also suggests that IABG’s networks may have been “looked at” by the NSA’s Network Analysis Center.

GCHQ’s aim was to obtain information that could help the spies infiltrate “teleport” satellites sold by these companies that send and receive data over the Internet. The document notes that GCHQ hoped to identify “access chokepoints” as part of a wider effort alongside partner spy agencies to “look at developing possible access opportunities” for surveillance.

In other words, infiltrating these companies was viewed as a means to an end for the British agents. Their ultimate targets were likely the customers. Cetel’s customers, for instance, include governments that use its communications systems to connect to the Internet in Africa and the Middle East. Stellar provides its communications systems to a diverse range of customers that could potentially be of interest to the spies – including multinational corporations, international organizations, refugee camps, and oil drilling platforms.

The chief executives of Cetel and Stellar both told Der Spiegel they were surprised that their companies had been targeted by GCHQ. Christian Steffen, the Stellar CEO, was himself named on GCHQ’s list of targets. “I am shocked,” he told the newspaper. IABG did not respond to a request for comment.

GCHQ issued a standard response when contacted about its targeting of the German companies, insisting that its work “is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate.”

But German authorities may take a different view on the legalities of the clandestine intrusions. Earlier this month – prior to the latest revelations – German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range told the newspaper Die Tageszeitung he was already conducting a probe into possible “espionage offenses” related to the targeting of the country. “I am currently reviewing whether reasonable suspicion exists,” Range said, “for an actionable criminal offense.”

March 29, 2014

Putin Explains Russian-Crimean Reunification

This transcript appears in the March 28, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
SPEECH AT THE KREMLIN


President Vladimir Putin addressed the two chambers of the Russian parliament and other dignitaries at the Kremlin on March 18, 2014. This official transcript has been slightly edited for clarity; emphasis, subheads, and footnotes have been added.

Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, good afternoon. Representatives of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol are here among us, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol!

Dear friends, we have gathered here today in connection with an issue that is of vital, historic significance to all of us. A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.

More than 82% of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96% of them spoke out in favor of reuniting with Russia. These numbers speak for themselves.

To understand the reason behind such a choice it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other.

Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Saint Prince Vladimir[1] was baptized. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilization, and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea.[2] This is also Sevastopol—a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge. Each one of these places is dear to our hearts, symbolizing Russian military glory and outstanding valor.

Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples' cultures and traditions. This makes it similar to Russia as a whole, where not a single ethnic group has been lost over the centuries. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and people of other ethnic groups have lived side by side in Crimea, retaining their own identity, traditions, languages and faith.

Incidentally, the total population of the Crimean Peninsula today is 2.2 million people, of whom almost 1.5 million are Russians, 350,000 are Ukrainians who predominantly consider Russian their native language, and about 290,000-300,000 are Crimean Tatars, who, as the referendum has shown, also lean towards Russia.

True, there was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly,[3] just as a number of other peoples in the USSR. There is only one thing I can say here: millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.

Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland. I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalize the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name.

We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right—I know the local population supports this—for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar.

Colleagues,

In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century.

After the revolution, the Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons—let God be their judge—added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic make-up of the population, and today these areas form the southeast of Ukraine. Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer the Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a federal city. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchov. What stood behind this decision of his—a desire to win the support of the Ukrainian political establishment or to atone for the mass repressions of the 1930s in Ukraine—is for historians to figure out.

What matters now is that this decision was made in clear violation of the constitutional norms that were in place even then. The decision was made behind the scenes. Naturally, in a totalitarian state nobody bothered to ask the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol. They were faced with the fact. People, of course, wondered why all of a sudden Crimea became part of Ukraine. But on the whole—and we must state this clearly, we all know it—this decision was treated as a formality of sorts because the territory was transferred within the boundaries of a single state. Back then, it was impossible to imagine that Ukraine and Russia might split up and become two separate states. However, this has happened.

After the Collapse of the USSR

Unfortunately, what seemed impossible became a reality. The USSR fell apart. Things developed so swiftly that few people realized how truly dramatic those events and their consequences would be. Many people both in Russia and in Ukraine, as well as in other republics hoped that the Commonwealth of Independent States that was created at the time would become the new common form of statehood. They were told that there would be a single currency, a single economic space, joint armed forces; however, all this remained empty promises, and the big country was gone. It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realized that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.

At the same time, we have to admit that by launching the sovereignty parade,[4] Russia itself aided in the collapse of the Soviet Union. And as this collapse was legalized, everyone forgot about Crimea and Sevastopol—the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.

Now, many years later, I heard residents of Crimea say that back in 1991 they were handed over like a sack of potatoes. This is hard to disagree with.

And what about the Russian state? What about Russia? It humbly accepted the situation. This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests. However, the people could not reconcile themselves to this outrageous historical injustice. All these years, citizens and many public figures came back to this issue, saying that Crimea is historically Russian land and Sevastopol is a Russian city. Yes, we all knew this in our hearts and minds, but we had to proceed from the existing reality and build our good-neighborly relations with independent Ukraine on a new basis. Meanwhile, our relations with Ukraine, with the fraternal Ukrainian people have always been and will remain of foremost importance for us.

Today we can speak about it openly, and I would like to share with you some details of the negotiations that took place in the early 2000s. The then President of Ukraine Mr. Kuchma asked me to expedite the process of delimiting the Russian-Ukrainian border. At that time, the process was practically at a standstill. Russia seemed to have recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine, but there were no negotiations on delimiting the borders. Despite the complexity of the situation, I immediately issued instructions to Russian government agencies to speed up their work to document the borders, so that everyone had a clear understanding that by agreeing to delimit the border we admitted de facto and de jure that Crimea was Ukrainian territory, thereby closing the issue.

We accommodated Ukraine not only regarding Crimea, but also on such a complicated matter as the maritime boundary in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. What we proceeded from back then was that good relations with Ukraine matter most for us and they should not fall hostage to deadlocked territorial disputes. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbor; we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its southeast and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilized state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.

However, this is not how the situation developed. Time and time again attempts were made to deprive Russians of their historical memory, even of their language and to subject them to forced assimilation. Moreover, Russians, just like other citizens of Ukraine, are suffering from the constant political and state crisis that has been rocking the country for over 20 years.

The Maidan Protests

I understand why Ukrainian people wanted change. They have had enough of the authorities in power during the years of Ukraine's independence. Presidents, prime ministers, and parliamentarians changed, but their attitude to the country and its people remained the same. They milked the country, fought among themselves for power, assets, and cash flows and did not care much about the ordinary people. They did not wonder why it was that millions of Ukrainian citizens saw no prospects at home and went to other countries to work as day laborers. I would like to stress this: It was not some Silicon Valley they fled to, but to become day laborers. Last year alone, almost 3 million people found such jobs in Russia. According to some sources, in 2013 their earnings in Russia totaled over $20 billion, which is about 12% of Ukraine's GDP.

I would like to reiterate that I understand those who came out on Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state management, and poverty. The right to peaceful protest, democratic procedures, and elections exist for the sole purpose of replacing authorities that do not satisfy the people. However, those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder, and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.

The new so-called authorities began by introducing a draft law to revise the language policy, which was a direct infringement on the rights of ethnic minorities. However, they were immediately "disciplined" by the foreign sponsors of these so-called politicians. One has to admit that the mentors of these current authorities are smart and know well what such attempts to build a purely Ukrainian state may lead to. The draft law was set aside, but clearly reserved for the future. Hardly any mention is made of this attempt now, probably on the presumption that people have a short memory. Nevertheless, we can all clearly see the intentions of these ideological heirs of Bandera,[5] Hitler's accomplice during World War II.

It is also obvious that there is no legitimate executive authority in Ukraine now, nobody to talk to. Many government agencies have been taken over by the impostors, but they do not have any control in the country, while they themselves—and I would like to stress this—are often controlled by radicals. In some cases, you need a special permit from the militants on the Maidan to meet with certain ministers of the current government. This is not a joke—this is reality.

Those who opposed the coup were immediately threatened with repression. Naturally, the first in line here was Crimea, Russian-speaking Crimea. In view of this, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol turned to Russia for help in defending their rights and lives, in preventing the events that were unfolding and are still underway in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkov, and other Ukrainian cities.

Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part.

International Law

First, we had to help create conditions so that the residents of Crimea for the first time in history were able to peacefully express their free will regarding their own future. However, what do we hear from our colleagues in Western Europe and North America? They say we are violating norms of international law. Firstly, it's a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law—better late than never.

Secondly, and most importantly—what exactly are we violating? True, the President of the Russian Federation received permission from the Upper House of Parliament to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine. However, strictly speaking, nobody has acted on this permission yet. Russia's Armed Forces never entered Crimea; they were there already in line with an international agreement. True, we did enhance our forces there; however—this is something I would like everyone to hear and know—we did not exceed the personnel limit of our Armed Forces in Crimea, which is set at 25,000, because there was no need to do so.

Next. As it declared independence and decided to hold a referendum, the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the right of nations to self-determination. Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it. Why is that?

The Kosovo Precedent

Moreover, the Crimean authorities referred to the well-known Kosovo precedent—a precedent our western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country's central authorities. Pursuant to Article 2, Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter, the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: "No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence," and "General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence." Crystal clear, as they say.

I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it. Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: "Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law." They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree, and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of the Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were. For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians, and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed. Again, one wonders why.

We keep hearing from the United States and Western Europe that Kosovo is some special case. What makes it so special in the eyes of our colleagues? It turns out that it is the fact that the conflict in Kosovo resulted in so many human casualties. Is this a legal argument? The ruling of the International Court says nothing about this. This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit one's own interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow. According to this logic, we have to make sure every conflict leads to human losses.

I will state clearly—if the Crimean local self-defense units had not taken the situation under control, there could have been casualties as well. Fortunately this did not happen. There was not a single armed confrontation in Crimea and no casualties. Why do you think this was so? The answer is simple: because it is very difficult, practically impossible to fight against the will of the people. Here I would like to thank the Ukrainian military—and this is 22,000 fully armed servicemen. I would like to thank those Ukrainian service members who refrained from bloodshed and did not smear their uniforms in blood.

Other thoughts come to mind in this connection. They keep talking of some sort of Russian intervention in Crimea, some sort of aggression. This is strange to hear. I cannot recall a single case in history of an intervention without a single shot being fired and with no human casualties.

Deteriorating International Relations

Colleagues,

Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades. After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly deteriorating. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle "If you are not with us, you are against us." To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe's capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort. And then, they hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.

There was a whole series of controlled "color" revolutions. Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically. Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples' cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks of violence and a series of upheavals. The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter.

A similar situation unfolded in Ukraine. In 2004, to push the desired candidate through at the presidential elections, they came up with a "third round" that was not stipulated by the law. It was absurd and a mockery of the Constitution. And now, they have thrown in an organized and well-equipped army of militants.

We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration. And all this while Russia strived to engage in dialogue with our colleagues in the West. We are constantly proposing cooperation on all key issues; we want to strengthen our level of trust and for our relations to be equal, open, and fair. But we saw no reciprocal steps.

Lies and Betrayed Promises

On the contrary, they have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO's expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They kept telling us the same thing: "Well, this does not concern you." That's easy to say.

It happened with the deployment of a missile defense system. In spite of all our apprehensions, the project is working and moving forward. It happened with the endless foot-dragging in the talks on visa issues, promises of fair competition and free access to global markets.

Today, we are being threatened with sanctions, but we already experience many restrictions, ones that are quite significant for us, our economy and our nation. For example, still during the times of the Cold War, the U.S. and subsequently other nations restricted a large list of technologies and equipment from being sold to the USSR, creating the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls list. Today, they have formally been eliminated, but only formally; and in reality, many restrictions are still in effect.

In short, we have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it, and because we call things as they are and do not engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our western partners have crossed the line, conducting themselves outrageously, and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.

After all, they were fully aware that there are millions of Russians living in Ukraine and in Crimea. They must have really lacked political instinct and common sense not to foresee all the consequences of their actions. Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from. If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.

Russia's Policy Now

Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria, to refute the rhetoric of the cold war and to accept the obvious fact: Russia is an independent, active participant in international affairs; like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.

At the same time, we are grateful to all those who understood our actions in Crimea; we are grateful to the people of China, whose leaders have always considered the situation in Ukraine and Crimea taking into account the full historical and political context, and greatly appreciate India's reserve and objectivity.

Today, I would like to address the people of the United States of America, the people who, since the foundation of their nation and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, have been proud to hold freedom above all else. Isn't the desire of Crimea's residents to freely choose their fate such a value? Please understand us.

I believe that the Europeans, first and foremost, the Germans, will also understand me. Let me remind you that in the course of political consultations on the unification of East and West Germany, at the expert, though very high level, some nations that were then and are now Germany's allies did not support the idea of unification. Our nation, however, unequivocally supported the sincere, unstoppable desire of the Germans for national unity. I am confident that you have not forgotten this, and I expect that the citizens of Germany will also support the aspiration of the Russians, of historical Russia, to restore unity.

I also want to address the people of Ukraine. I sincerely want you to understand us: we do not want to harm you in any way, or to hurt your national feelings. We have always respected the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, incidentally, unlike those who sacrificed Ukraine's unity for their political ambitions. They flaunt slogans about Ukraine's greatness, but they are the ones who did everything to divide the nation. Today's civil standoff is entirely on their conscience. I want you to hear me, my dear friends. Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that. As for Crimea, it was and remains a Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean-Tatar land.

I repeat, just as it has been for centuries, it will be a home to all the peoples living there. What it will never be and do is follow in Bandera's footsteps!

Crimea is our common historical legacy and a very important factor in regional stability. And this strategic territory should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian. Otherwise, dear friends (I am addressing both Ukraine and Russia), you and we—the Russians and the Ukrainians—could lose Crimea completely, and that could happen in the near historical perspective. Please think about it.

Let me note too that we have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO's navy would be right there in this city of Russia's military glory, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia. These are things that could have become reality were it not for the choice the Crimean people made, and I want to say thank you to them for this.

But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organization, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.

Let me say quite frankly that it pains our hearts to see what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, to see the people's suffering and their uncertainty about how to get through today and what awaits them tomorrow. Our concerns are understandable, because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.

Let me say one other thing too. Millions of Russians and Russian-speaking people live in Ukraine and will continue to do so. Russia will always defend their interests using political, diplomatic and legal means. But it should be above all in Ukraine's own interest to ensure that these people's rights and interests are fully protected. This is the guarantee of Ukraine's state stability and territorial integrity.

We want to be friends with Ukraine and we want Ukraine to be a strong, sovereign and self-sufficient country. Ukraine is one of our biggest partners, after all. We have many joint projects and I believe in their success no matter what the current difficulties. Most importantly, we want peace and harmony to reign in Ukraine, and we are ready to work together with other countries to do everything possible to facilitate and support this. But as I said, only Ukraine's own people can put their own house in order.

Residents of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the whole of Russia admired your courage, dignity and bravery. It was you who decided Crimea's future. We were closer than ever over these days, supporting each other. These were sincere feelings of solidarity. It is at historic turning points such as these that a nation demonstrates its maturity and strength of spirit. The Russian people showed this maturity and strength through their united support for their compatriots.

Russia's foreign policy position on this matter drew its firmness from the will of millions of our people, our national unity and the support of our country's main political and public forces. I want to thank everyone for this patriotic spirit, everyone without exception. Now, we need to continue and maintain this kind of consolidation so as to resolve the tasks our country faces on its road ahead.

Obviously, we will encounter external opposition, but this is a decision that we need to make for ourselves. Are we ready to consistently defend our national interests, or will we forever give in, retreat to who knows where? Some Western politicians are already threatening us with not just sanctions, but also the prospect of increasingly serious problems on the domestic front. I would like to know what it is they have in mind exactly: action by a fifth column, this disparate bunch of "national traitors," or are they hoping to put us in a worsening social and economic situation so as to provoke public discontent? We consider such statements irresponsible and clearly aggressive in tone, and we will respond to them accordingly. At the same time, we will never seek confrontation with our partners, whether in the East or the West, but on the contrary, will do everything we can to build civilized and good-neighborly relations as one is supposed to in the modern world.

Colleagues,

I understand the people of Crimea, who put the question in the clearest possible terms in the referendum: Should Crimea be with Ukraine or with Russia? We can be sure in saying that the authorities in Crimea and Sevastopol, the legislative authorities, when they formulated the question, set aside group and political interests and made the people's fundamental interests alone the cornerstone of their work. The particular historic, population, political, and economic circumstances of Crimea would have made any other proposed option only temporary and fragile and would have inevitably led to further worsening of the situation there, which would have had disastrous effects on people's lives. The people of Crimea thus decided to put the question in firm and uncompromising form, with no gray areas. The referendum was fair and transparent, and the people of Crimea clearly and convincingly expressed their will and stated that they want to be with Russia.

Russia will also have to make a difficult decision now, taking into account the various domestic and external considerations. What do people here in Russia think? Here, as in any democratic country, people have different points of view, but I want to make the point that the absolute majority of our people clearly do support what is happening.

The most recent public opinion surveys conducted here in Russia show that 95% of people think that Russia should protect the interests of Russians and members of other ethnic groups living in Crimea—95% of our citizens. More than 83% think that Russia should do this even if it will complicate our relations with some other countries. A total of 86% of our people see Crimea as still being Russian territory and part of our country's lands. And one particularly important figure, which corresponds exactly with the result in Crimea's referendum: Almost 92% of our people support Crimea's reunification with Russia.

Thus we see that the overwhelming majority of people in Crimea and the absolute majority of the Russian Federation's people support the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia.

Now this is a matter for Russia's own political decision, and any decision here can be based only on the people's will, because the people are the ultimate source of all authority.

Members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, today, in accordance with the people's will, I submit to the Federal Assembly a request to consider a Constitutional Law on the creation of two new constituent entities within the Russian Federation: the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and to ratify the treaty on admitting to the Russian Federation Crimea and Sevastopol, which is already ready for signing. I stand assured of your support.

[1] Prince Vladimir (958-1050), the Prince of Novgorod, converted from paganism to Orthodox Christianity in 988, and ruled Kievan Rus from 980 until his death.

[2] During the Crimean War (1853-1856).

[3] In May 1944, the entire population of the Crimean Tatars was deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin's Soviet government. An estimated 46% of them died from hunger and disease. They were rehabilitated in 1967, but were banned from legally returning to Crimea until the 1980s.

[3] In August 1990, a year before the breakup of the Soviet Union, then-Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) Boris Yeltsin, the future first President of post-Soviet Russia, advised autonomous republics (AR) within the RSFSR: "Take as much sovereignty as you can swallow." The increased autonomy granted to the AR at that time, in a power struggle that involved competing legal changes made by the USSR and the RSFSR, came back to haunt Russia. In the 1990s, some AR set up their own foreign ministries and passed laws contradicting federal laws, while insurgents in other AR, such as Chechnya, invoked the 1990 decisions as grounds for secession.

[5] Stepan Bandera (1909-59) headed a Ukrainian independence movement, the OUN, which collaborated with the Nazis before and after the invasion of the Soviet Union and participated in the extermination of Jews and Poles in Ukraine. See EIR, Feb 7, 2014.

Putin Lays Out Strategic Import of Crimea Annexation

This article appears in the March 28, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

by Susan Welsh


March 22—We publish in this section the full text of Russian President Vladimir Putin's March 18 speech to the two chambers of the Russian parliament and other dignitaries, including leaders of Crimea who the week before, had announced their intention to declare independence from Ukraine, pending the results of a referendum. After Putin's speech, they signed a treaty incorporating Crimea into the Russian Federation.

On March 16, the populations of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the administratively distinct City of Sevastopol had voted overwhelmingly to apply to join the Russian Federation. The returns in those referenda were, respectively, 96.77% with a turnout of 83.1%, and 95.60% with a turnout of 89.5%.

Our principal reason for publishing the full speech is that Americans, in particular, are utterly in the dark about what the man actually says and said. U.S. mainstream press coverage has been overwhelmingly along the lines of "Is Putin Like Hitler?" or "Putin Threatens New Cold War." This speech was a well-reasoned and statesman-like overview of Russian foreign and strategic policy, yet American readers are given only snippets, embedded in overwhelmingly negative spin.

There are few exceptions to what Henry Kissinger described, in a Washington Post op-ed on March 5, as "the demonization of Vladimir Putin." Although this magazine does not usually find itself in agreement with Kissinger, we concur that for the West, "this is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one." And Stephen F. Cohen, a highly respected historian of Russia and the Soviet Union who comes more from the left of the political spectrum, summed it up in a Jan. 30 interview with DemocracyNow.org: "I think that the vilification of Putin in this country, demonization, is the worst press coverage by the American media of Russia that I've seen in my 40 years of studying Russia and contributing to the media."

Historical Ties

Let's analyze a few of Putin's key points.

First, he emphasizes the historical importance of Crimea as a part of Russia, which is indisputably the case. (He notes the peculiar historical circumstances under which the two were separated, first in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchov while the USSR still existed as one country, and then when the borders of the post-Soviet countries were drawn up after 1991.)

What about Ukraine? Also indisputably, that country has been torn by opposing views toward Russia since before Ukraine ever existed as a nation-state. Divisions along linguistic and religious lines led to hideous bloodletting in previous centuries, in which no one party was exclusively to blame. Putin was at pains to thank Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea for the fact that they behaved very responsibly, that no blood was shed.

But he also castigated the "Maidan" leaders of the Feb. 22 coup in Ukraine for the country's current polarization. "Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia," he said, addressing Ukrainians, "shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that. As for Crimea, it was and remains a Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean-Tatar land." It will continue to be a home to all the peoples living there, he said, but, "What it will never be and do is follow in Bandera's footsteps!"—a reference to Stepan Bandera, the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Nazi collaborator whose forces waged partisan war against the Soviet Union, from Hitler's invasion in 1941 until as late as 1956.

While these accusations against the Banderites are routinely dismissed as "Russian propaganda" by U.S. pundits who know nothing about history, the evidence is there for anyone who bothers to look into it. Bandera's heirs are still alive and well in Ukraine today, in the Svoboda party (with its several Cabinet positions), the Right Sector paramilitaries, and others. Their anti-Semitic and anti-Russian ravings are there for all to see, as EIR has documented over the last months.

Yet despite the Banderite legacy, Russia and Ukraine have been linked by geography, history, and culture for centuries.

Many outstanding Ukrainian thinkers, such as Academician Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945) and Prof. Taras Muranivsky (1935-2000, leader of the Schiller Institute in Moscow), coupled their passion for Ukraine's identity as a nation-state, with a profound commitment to Ukrainian-Russian collaboration on ideas of importance for both nations and all mankind.

NATO's Eastward Expansion

Putin's second main point was NATO's eastward expansion since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990-91, and Russia's keen sense that it was betrayed by those Western leaders who had promised, again and again, that this would not happen. This, too, is pooh-poohed (if mentioned at all) by our talking heads. Is what Putin says true?

The German Spiegel Online, on Nov. 26, 2009, published an article based on newly declassified German documents, which makes it abundantly clear that such assurances were given to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov, although they were never put in writing. A few examples from this and other sources:

U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, Feb. 9, 1990, speech in the Kremlin: There will be "no extension of NATO's jurisdiction for forces of NATO one inch to the east," provided Moscow agrees to the NATO membership of a unified Germany.

West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher to Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, Feb. 10, 1990: "We are aware that NATO membership raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east."

NATO Secretary-General Manfred W├Ârner, May 17, 1990, speech in Brussels: "The fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee."

When these promises were broken, in one country after another, would you not perhaps expect that Russia would think it was being encircled? And wouldn't it be right?

A May 2, 1998 article by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, provided a useful view, when he reported on the reaction of George Kennan—one of the figures who launched the original Cold War—to the recent Senate vote on the inclusion of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary in NATO: "I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War," said the 94-year-old Kennan. "I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way."

Kennan added, after discussing how poorly Russian history is understood in the West, "Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are—but this is just wrong."

International Law

The third major theme of Putin's remarks concerns international law. Did Russia "invade" Crimea? Did it violate international law? He says not.

On the question of invasion, no less a personage than CIA Director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker on Feb. 28 that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the Crimea region, the Los Angeles Times reported on March 3. "The number of Russian troops that have surged into Ukraine in recent days remains well below that threshold, Brennan said, according to U.S. officials who declined to be named...."

In his insistence that Russia did not violate international law, Putin discusses at some length the precedent of Kosova, quoting from UN documents and an official statement from the U.S. government to the International Court. The point here is that international law does not prohibit declarations of independence, such as that issued by Crimea, even if they violate domestic legislation.

Yet in the Washington Post, the daily newspaper read by most of our officials in the nation's capital, Will Englund had the following to say about Putin's speech: "In a speech to a joint session of the Russian parliament, he compared the move to the independence declaration of Kosova in 2008 and the reunification of Germany in 1990—but, in reality, this is the first time that one European nation has seized territory from another since the end of World War II."

At least some European observers understand that Russian actions have not been about "seizing territory." The stated intention of Western-backed, coup-installed Ukrainian government officials on ending the autonomous status of Crimea (with its heavily Russian-ethnic population and the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet) had to remind Moscow of the actions of then-Georgian President Michael Saakashvili in 2008, when he attacked the autonomous region of South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers who were stationed there. This Georgian attack, as German expert on Russia Alexander Rahr emphasized in his book Putin nach Putin (2008), was a kind of wake-up call to the Kremlin leadership, and their response was predictably harsh.

"Russia clearly drew a red line to the West; much like the West did 50 years ago in the Cuba Crisis," he said in an interview to the Caucasian Review of International Affairs (August 2008). "Russia is not going to accept a further expansion of NATO in the heartland of the post-Soviet territories, which are regarded as specific and historic zones of influence of Russia."

The developments of the past four months around Ukraine and Crimea are of the same coloration.

A 'Mirror' of the Broader Crisis

Finally, Putin stressed the broader strategic context of the Ukraine crisis. "Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades," he said.

"We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration. And all this while Russia strived to engage in dialogue with our colleagues in the West.

What Does “Small Footprint” Really Mean?




This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 13 March 2014.
There will be no more large-scale American counterinsurgency operations. At least, that’s what the Obama administration’s Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG) of 2012anticipates. While it maintains an existing emphasis on countering irregular threats and conserving hard-won skill sets, the DSG articulates a desire to do so not through large-scale counterinsurgency, but by maintaining a persistent, forward presence around the world and leveraging that presence to deter potential adversaries, respond to crises, and build the capacity of partner nations to provide for their own security. Specifically regarding the latter, the document states,
Across the globe we will seek to be the security partner of choice, pursuing new partnerships with a growing number of nations – including those in
Africa and Latin America – whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability, and prosperity. Whenever possible, we will develop innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches to achieve our security objectives… [Emphasis in the
original]

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