In his Dec. 18 column at venezuelanalysis.com, Nino Pagliccia asks: ‘Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?’
He first notes that on Dec. 12 at an international media conference Nicolas Maduro had announced that his security and intel services had learned of plans to further destabilize Venezuela.
“That in itself is major news but it is noticeable that his denunciation only two days after the well-publicized landing of Russian military aircrafts at Venezuela’s international Simon Bolivar airport of Maiquetía as part of Russia-Venezuela joint military exercises and training. This is not the first occurrence of military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela but this seems to be the first time such news has had enough impact on Washington to prompt a strong and undiplomatic reaction from the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo who referred to the two countries as “two corrupt governments squandering public funds” in a tweet.”
Answering his title’s question he writes:
“It appears to be so, and certainly Venezuela is quite a wide door in geopolitical terms capable of countering the political reversals of some countries in the region surrendering to neoliberal ideology.”
The second reason, he writes, is that both VZ and Russia have been slapped with sanctions (I’d add ‘endlessly, and illegally by way of international law’), but that military threats against VZ are even more menacing, therefore Russia’s ‘balancing’ military help is welcome, as would be the Islamic Republic of Iran having announced that will soon send warships to Venezuela as a sign of strategic partnership.
Pagliccia adds that the timing of the arrival of the assistance is important, as Maduro is to be sworn in for another six-year term as President again on Jan. 10, and given the rumors of ‘disruption’, Russia is signaling its support for Maduro. He chronicles the threats against Maduro:
“However, the official position is that these are not just rumors and the disruptions may include violent and terrorist tactics. To that effect president Maduro stated at the media conference: “Today I come again to denounce the plot that from the White House is being prepared to violate Venezuelan democracy, to assassinate me and to impose a dictatorial government in Venezuela.” Then he added more pointedly, “Mr. John Bolton has been appointed again, as head of the plot to turn Venezuela to violence and to seek a foreign military intervention, a coup, to assassinate President Maduro and impose what they call a ‘transitional government council’. I’m saying this to you to unveil their plans. ”
John Bolton is the National Security Advisor of the United States with the reputation of coining the term “troika of tyranny” in reference to the democratically elected, progressive governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Maduro’s statements are perfectly credible mainly based on specific details he provided.”
He then names the paramilitary groups and commando groups, their numbers and locations in Colombia, with one based in Florida, which specificity convinces Pagliccia is actual intel. The deployment of the Russian war planes to VZ came just one week after Maduro’s recent visit to Moscow, and he names ‘…the deployment consists of two TU-160 long-range bombers with nuclear capability, an An-124 heavy military transport plane and an II-62 long-haul plane of the Russian aerospace forces’, but a hundred pilot trainers had also come with them, but yes, still ‘modest in comparison to the 22 US military bases in Latin America’.
“However, the message that the action sends must be seen as a strong deterrent to any military intervention in Venezuela especially coming from Colombia.
Venezuela Minister of defense, Vladimir Padrino explained, “We must tell the people of Venezuela and the entire world that … we are also preparing to defend Venezuela to the last extent when necessary.” [snip]
“Russia practices a remarkable two-prong approach in its foreign policy that combines a responsible non-hegemonic military strength with careful maintenance of balance of forces in particularly conflictive areas. This is precisely what is needed in Latin America in order to preserve peace, as opposed to the divide-and-rule approach used by U.S. foreign policy.
More broadly, Russia and Venezuela share a common view of a multipolar world cooperating in social, military and economic areas of interest that replaces the hegemonic unipolar strangling financial world dominated by the U.S.”
Also from venezuelanalysis: ‘WaPo: Trump Needs to Destroy Venezuela to Save It; “Propaganda works primarily through repetition” analyses Joe Emersberger of fair.org. It’s a long, but illuminating in exposing the constant agitprop against VZ, especially by the compromised NGO Human Rights Watch; a few paragraphs:
“Tamara Taraciuk Broner of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Johns Hopkins professor Kathleen Page took to the pages of the Washington Post (11/26/18) to whitewash Donald Trump’s successful efforts to make Venezuela’s economic crisis much worse. Appropriately enough, at the end of the piece, the Post recommended four other articles (11/23/18, 9/11/18, 6/20/18,8/21/18) that either attacked Venezuela’s government or stayed conspicuously silent about the impact of US economic sanctions.
Propaganda works primarily through repetition. The vilification of Venezuela’s government in the Western media has been relentless for the past 17 years, as Alan MacLeod pointed out in his book Bad News From Venezuela.” [snip]
“The idea that “most sanctions” have “no impact on the Venezuelan economy” is appalling nonsense (FAIR.org, 3/22/18). Trump has extended Obama’s cynically declared “national emergency” over Venezuela, and escalated by directly threatening holders of Venezuelan government bonds, making it it impossible for Venezuela to “roll over” any bonds governed under US law (i.e., borrow to pay off principal when a bond comes due, as governments usually do). In January, a Torino Capital report on Venezuela’s economy stated that “all foreign-currency bonds are denominated in dollars, and all are governed by New York law.” Trump also prohibited the Venezuelan government–owned CITGO corporation, based in Texas, from sending any profits or dividends back to Venezuela.
The US allies Taraciuk and Page mentioned mainly provide propaganda cover for a US-led assault. Bear in mind that the United States, Canada and other countries within the European Union are supplying weapons and other essential military support to Saudi Arabia, even as it inflicts famine on Yemen. Why do you suppose governments barbaric enough to arm Saudi Arabia also target Venezuela with economic sanctions? Does concern over human rights and corruption, which Taraciuk and Page uncritically cited as a rationale, pass the laugh test?”
Let’s jump now to the other hot spot trying to provoke the Russian Bear into war: the Kerch Strait between the Azov Sea and the Black Sea.
Finian Cunningham writing at RT on Dec. 21 posits ‘Why Trump’s peace signal in Syria could see US clash with Russia in Ukraine’
Now others such as Patrick Lawrence make a case that there won’t actually be a draw down of troops for various reasons, as does Vladamir Putin. But never mind; Bibi says Israel will ‘fill in the void’.
“Nevertheless, President Vladimir Putin noted in his annual press conference this week that it remains to be seen if the planned US withdrawal actually materializes. Only a couple of months ago, national security advisor John Bolton declared US forces would be in Syria for as long as Iranian forces were present.” [snip]
“Earlier this week, Kurt Volker, the Trump administration’s envoy to Ukraine, told a forum in Brussels that $250 million worth of military equipment was on its way to the US-backed regime in Kiev.
That latest installment is in addition to the $1 billion of military assistance Washington has provided the Kiev regime since it seized power in February 2014 with the US-backed coup. It was the Trump administration that broke new ground from former president Obama when it signed off on $47 million in “lethal military supply” to the Kiev regime this year in the form of anti-tank javelin missiles.
Also this week, some 41 US senators signed a resolution calling for “freedom of navigation” exercises in the Black Sea and for more lethal military assistance “to defend Ukraine from Russian aggression”. Among those senators is Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of the most hawkish anti-Russia lawmakers. Ominously for US-Russia relations, Cotton is tipped in media reports as taking over from Mattis as the next Secretary of Defense.” [snip]
“There are serious portents that the Kiev regime is planning to launch more provocations against Russia in the same vein as the Kerch Strait incident on November 25. A senior Kiev official, Alexander Turchinov, almost bragged to the BBC this week that more naval incursions were imminent. He also indicated that NATO vessels could be joining future Ukrainian attempted forays through the Kerch Strait.”
READ MORE: Ukraine plans another incursion into Kerch Strait, hopes NATO ships will join in – top official [It also comes several days after the UN General Assembly passed a Ukrainian resolution, condemning the presence of the Russian military in the Crimean Peninsula and the surrounding waters of the Black Sea and the Azov Sea. 66 countries supported the non-binding resolution but 72 abstained from voting altogether.] Back to F. Cunningham:
“It has to be borne in mind that the politically unstable Neo-Nazi regime in Kiev is itching for a confrontation with Russia. The regime, which honors Nazi figures like Stepan Bandera who collaborated with the German Third Reich’s exterminatory policy against Russia, is motivated by rabid Russophobia; and, secondly, by a desperate desire to save its decrepit state by inciting a war with Russia and getting NATO to ride to its rescue.
American and European Atlanticist politicians are so inebriated with anti-Russian propaganda and ideology that they have bought into the Kiev narrative of “Russian aggression.” Reports of increasing NATO trainers present among the Kiev regime’s forces building up against ethnic Russian people in the breakaway Donbas eastern region of Ukraine, as well as suspicions of Western coaching of provocations against Russia – all indicate a grave risk of war breaking out.”
And holy crow from the Kyiv Post Dec. 22, via Reuters
“BELBEK, Crimea (Reuters) – More than a dozen SU-27 and SU-30 fighter jets which Russia is deploying to boost its air force, amid heightened tensions with Ukraine, arrived in Crimea on Saturday.
A Reuters witness saw the jets land at Belbek air base in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014 after Moscow-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich fled Kiev following street clashes and violent protests.”
Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have risen in the past weeks after Russia seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crews on Nov. 25 in an incident which Moscow and Kiev have blamed on each other.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has alleged Ukraine was preparing “a provocation” near Crimea before the end of the year.”
From presstv.com: Interfax confirms it, although I’d wondered if it might have been Reuters + bellingcat agitprop again.:
“The announcement came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview that Ukraine was preparing an “armed provocation with Russia on the border with Crimea during the last ten days of December.”
The state-run TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as saying that Moscow would not allow the Ukrainian government to act on those plans and “they will regret it.”
The top Russian diplomat also said that his country “will not wage war against Ukraine,” and accused Kiev of having “Nazi characteristics.”
“We are not fighting the Ukrainian regime,” Lavrov said. “It is Ukrainian citizens living in Donbass who are fighting against the Ukrainian regime, which has full Nazi and neo-Nazi characteristics.“
‘Russia’s latest naval attack continues years of aggression in Black Sea’, Veronika Melkozerova, Kyiv Post, De. 22
“The forces are far from equal. Ukraine lost 80 percent of its navy and coast guard fleet when Russia occupied Crimea. Now Ukraine protects itself in the sea with some 70 small motor boats of the coast guard, eight armored motor boats, three warships and 20 non-combatant navy vessels.
By comparison, Russia has more than 10 navy warships and several dozens of motorboats in the Black Sea and some 120 armored boats in the Azov Sea in addition to several dozens of Federal Security Service Coast Guard boats.
To compensate for that inequality, the U.S. and the U.K. deployed their navy vessels to the Black Sea in order to monitor the situation. On Dec. 19, the U.K. warship HMS Echo docked in Odesa.
Russia intends to dominate the Black Sea and in effect is already doing so, according to Glen Grant, a security and defense expert at the Kyiv-based think tank Ukrainian Institute.
“Russia is at war with everyone. But other countries are still too frightened or blind to show this openly,” Grant said.”
Coming soon: Great Power Conflicts with: China.
(cross-posted at caucuc99percent.com)