Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

NATO On Alert

Russia is busy chastising Ukraine for its audacious assertiveness in thinking it could behave as it wished to, without due authorization from the Kremlin. From Moscow, Alexei Miller, head of Gazprom announced that the discount on gas prices granted as part of a financial lifeline offered to former president Viktor Yanukovych a few months back, before Ukraine descended into fascist chaos, was officially rescinded.

Henceforth, Ukraine will pay for its critical gas courtesy of the Kremlin, $385.50 per thousand cubic metres not the discounted $268.50 per thousand cubic metres promised. Of course Ukraine could respond by blowing up the gas pipeline that sends Russian gas through Ukraine to the European Union -- a transfer of assets that nets Russia a huge proportion of its GDP, enabling it to modernize its military, mount a $50-billion Sochi Games extravaganza -- to deliver a mortal economic wound.

But that would discount, willy-nilly, Russia's million military personnel to Ukraine's tenth of that total. Moreover, it would not solve the issue of Moscow claiming that Ukraine owes over $1.7-billion  to Gazprom alone. Of course, there's more presumably, since Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed last month that Russia awaits the total debt of $16-billion that Ukraine, he asserted, owes it.

So the caretaker Ukrainian government, awaiting the May presidential elections is attempting to cope with its inner chaos where anarchy seems to prevail with an assortment of armed paramilitaries, and trying not to go off the deep end of aggravated concern over when the Kremlin will drop the next shoe. In the meanwhile, Ukraine's Parliament ordered law enforcement agencies to disarm unofficial paramilitaries.

The nationalists and assorted vigilante groups whose role in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych was so central to the coup manoeuvred by the persistent Maidan protests, must now surrender authority to the central government. Otherwise the country risks the impression that Russia is astutely pointing out, that fascists are running the country. So, in response to the "aggravation of the crime situation and systematic provocations on the part of foreigners in southeastern Ukraine and in Kyiv", the Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine was tasked to disarm the rogues.

Last seen on Tuesday at the crack of dawn, after all-night 'negotiations' with police officers armed with automatic rifles surrounding Right Sector's headquarters, to be leaving, many wearing military fatigues and balaclavas, boarding buses en  route to a "training ground" outside Kyiv.

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector leave their headquarters in Dnipro Hotel as police special forces stand guard in Kiev April 1, 2014.

While Ukraine is being thus afflicted, eyeing the 40,000 Russian troop buildup on its borders, concerned that east Ukraine may very well go the same route as Crimea, and desperately attempting to reassure Ukrainians that matters will improve, the country will somehow find itself on the road to economic recovery, that its friends in the West will ensure that no further ill befalls Ukraine through Russian military diplomacy, its neighbours nervously watch.

Poland has requested of NATO that it station ten thousand troops on its territory as an obvious and very visible deterrent to any Russian expansionist plans resulting from Vladimir Putin's vows to protect the interests of Russians living therein. NATO has, after all, stated its determination to stand in defence of all its member countries.

NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels for that very purpose, for it is not only Poland but the Baltic states as well, who plead for reassurance and the stationing of military on their soil, to ensure that it remains their soil. The pledge has been given; those NATO members feeling threatened by Russia will receive protection, while NATO itself is prepared to suspend "all practical civilian and military co-operation" with Moscow.

Take that to the bank....

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