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Drills for Putin’s cutthroats or the harbinger of war: #KAVKAZ-2020

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When Putin became the “tzar” of all Russia, this launched the process of cloning the USSR. You see, Putin wants revenge, possibly for his non-existent childhood. Maybe it’s because he didn’t get enough vitamins as a child, or perhaps it was due to the hard times in the Cheka school toilets, writes Reserve Sergenat of the Latvian National Guard Augusts Augustiņš.

I already talked about Putin’s bloody ambitions in regard to the Baltic states in my article published on pietiek.com The Kremlin is preparing a Trojan potato for the Baltics: project People’s Republic of Vitebsk, but this isn’t the only piece of the puzzle in Putin’s military strategy. He has never hidden the fact that he wants Russia to become as powerful as the Soviet Union was, but this is impossible without Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states, which was lost in 1991. Almost all of the necessary prerequisites have been met, the only thing left to do is to ensure against NATO’s Article 5. It is possible this will be done by creating a People’s Republic of Vitebsk in the direct vicinity of Latvia and Lithuania. Putin knows that no one, especially the Old Europe, will want a direct military confrontation with Russia.

That is why when Russia is faced with some domestic problems, we are forced to tolerate the expansion of Putin’s Russian world at the expense of other countries’ territories. This is the reason Moldova has Transnistria, Georgia has South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Ukraine has the Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics”, while Armenia and Azerbaijan have Nagorno-Karabakh. And now it looks like Belarus might get something as well. Most of these pseudo-nations have been established during Russian military exercises or sometime after.

Putin will not be able to achieve his dream if CIS member states one after another turn their backs on the Kremlin. Putin doesn’t want this to happen, so he does everything in his power to return the lost and suspicious post-Soviet nations along with their lands in his sphere of influence, using not only soft power and propaganda, but military force as well – or all of this at the same time – in order to start a hybrid war. How can we be sure this doesn’t happen during the military exercises KAVKAZ-2020 in September?

The annexation of Crimea is a great example of a successful hybrid war that also reveals Putin’s ambitions and intentions. The Crimean Peninsula is one of the key elements Putin required to achieve what neither Hitler, nor Stalin could. Now, that Putin has acquired Crimea, he has turned it into an unbreachable fortress that will for a long time be a huge headache for Southern Europe.

This headache will only go away when Russia’s occupation regime collapses. Crimea is vitally important to the Kremlin so it can launch military strikes against Ukraine, control the nearby EU and NATO member states, provide assistance to brotherly regimes in Syria, Libya and the Balkans and to occasionally show its teeth to Turkey. The Russian Caspian Flotilla once fired missiles at targets in Syria, and now it is the Black Sea Fleet’s (BSF) turn to show its muscles.

After the annexation of Crimea, the BSF has become Russia’s priority. Over the course of the last five years, the BSF has received considerable amounts of money for maintenance, rearmament, modernization and the construction of new warships, and this does not bode well for Eastern Europe. The BSF has at least 15 ships armed with Kalibr missiles that can be equipped with nuclear warheads with a range of at least 2,600 kilometers. Whether the missiles can hit the barn door is a different story.

It is because of these missiles that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and Russia is no longer in effect. Furthermore, there are Tu-22M3 strategic bombers and Su-34 tactical bombers stationed in Crimea that are able to carry nuclear weapons. It is said that these flying garbage cans will be modernized very soon. Two helicopter carriers are also being built in Crimea, and Putin has promised that these will be unique ships. The Kremlin’s propaganda reported that Putin himself had arrived to lay the keels of these ships, thus signaling the importance of these projects and stressing Russia’s aggressive intentions to keep all of Europe in fear.

Despite the 1949 Geneva Conventions establishing the standards for humanitarian treatment during war, Russia has no problem of recruiting the residents of the occupied peninsula for the Russian Armed Forces. Propaganda is actively circulating in the Crimea Peninsula to join the Armed Forces, the BSF and other power structures.

Sadly, this propaganda is focused on brainwashing children and youth, and children are being “taught” to love Putin’s Russian world already in kindergarten. For instance, during the celebrations of the BSF Day in Sevastopol children were allowed to look at and touch the BSF’s military equipment. Putin’s regime does this to ensure that the peninsula permanently remains a part of Russia, as well as to keep the entire Black Sea region under “slight stress”. Additionally, large-scale drills are being held here that more resemble the BSF preparing for assault operations and have absolutely nothing to do with defense.

It is possible that this region will be the birthplace of all the danger we’ve be warned about by pro-Kremlin media outlets and internet trolls, including Baba Vanga, because the militarization of Crimea is happening rapidly and the BSF is being engaged in countless military exercises.

And the large-scale exercises KAVKAZ-2020 scheduled for September this year will be no exception. Perhaps this is the reason for the events taking place in Belarus and perhaps this is why Putin is concentrating his army near the borders of Ukraine by sending tank columns one after another to the friendly self-proclaimed Chechen people’s republics in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, briefly before the events in Belarus, the “friendly” relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan suddenly escalated. It is no secret that Putin dreams about Ukraine – if not the entire country, then at least a part of it. In a press conference, the newly made dictator reminded to the Ukrainians that the “Black Sea region (Причерноморье) has since ancient times belonged to the Russians”, thus informing the entire world of his bloody plans. Does anyone remember what Putin and the Kremlin’s propagandists have said about Latvia and the Baltic region?

We can be certain that pro-Kremlin separatists will become active in Belarus and Eastern Ukraine before KAVKAZ-2020. By the way, this has already begun. It is likely that Ukrainians will have to deal with provocations in Kherson, Odessa and Donetsk oblasts.

It is very likely that during these exercises Putin’s cutthroats will attempt to join Crimea with the Kadyrov-occupied Donbass. This would ease and improve logistics by cutting off Ukraine from the Sea of Azov. And after the “exercises” Putin would finally be able to solemnly supply the residents of the occupied Crimea with hot and cold water. That would be one hell of a propaganda show!

Putin needs another conflict to improve his ratings in the eyes of the Russian people – a small war that Russia wins and in which the BSF could play the deciding role. At least Putin himself thinks so.

Considering what is currently taking place in Belarus, it is worth thinking about the Achilles’ heel of the Baltics, i.e. the Suwalki gap, because on both ends of this corridor lies Russia, while NATO is in the middle. If we think about it, Kaliningrad Oblast is merely Russia’s military base and nothing more ­– and it’s the same with Crimea.

All these facts and the harsh reality give us understanding about why Putin requires Crimea and why he would require another aggressive pro-Kremlin people’s republic in Belarus near the borders of Latvia and Lithuania.

P.S. Putin has always done what others would never expect. Everything NATO and EU is currently “doing” in this regard is meaningless, because no one in Old Europe is willing to completely admit that Putin’s regime is the axis of evil, let alone declare war against the Russian Federation. It is evident that NATO and the EU are fighting the consequences, not the cause. At some point, everyone flirted with Hitler; and we even forgave Stalin – and we are still to this day unable to deal with the consequences of our actions.

Brexit

EU's Barnier still hopes trade deal with Britain possible, sources say

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The European Union’s Brexit negotiator told the bloc’s 27 national envoys to Brussels that he still hoped a trade deal with Britain was possible, stressing that the coming days would be decisive, diplomatic sources with the bloc told Reuters, write and

Michel Barnier addressed the gathering on Wednesday (16 September) and the three sources either participated in the discussion behind closed doors or were briefed on its content.

“Barnier still believes a deal is possible though the next days are key,” said one of the EU diplomatic sources.

A second diplomat, asked what Barnier said on Wednesday and whether there was still a chance for a new agreement with the UK, said: “The hope is still there.”

The first source said tentative concessions offered by the UK on fisheries - a key point of discord that has so far prevented agreement on a new EU-UK trade deal to kick in from 2021 - were “a glimmer of hope”.

Reuters reported exclusively on Tuesday (15 September) that Britain has moved to break the deadlock despite that fact that publicly London has been threatening to breach the terms of its earlier divorce deal with the bloc.

A third source, a senior EU diplomat, confirmed the UK offer but stressed it was not going far enough for the bloc to accept.

Brexit talks descended into fresh turmoil this month over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to pass new domestic laws that would undercut London’s earlier EU divorce deal, which is also aimed at protecting peace on the island of Ireland.

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned Britain that it must honour the Northern Irish peace deal as it extracts itself from the EU or there would be no US trade deal for the United Kingdom.

The third EU source, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said that the bloc would take a more rigid line in demanding a solid dispute settlement mechanism in any new UK trade deal should Johnson press ahead with the Internal Market Bill.

“There is unease about what Britain is doing but Barnier has stressed he will keep negotiating until his last breath,” said a fourth EU diplomat, highlighting the bloc’s wariness about being assigned blame should the troubled process eventually fail.

Asked about an estimate by Societe Generale bank, which put at 80% the probability of the most damaging economic split at the end of the year without a new deal to carry forward trade and business ties between the EU and the UK, the person said:

“I would put it around the same mark.”

Barnier is due to meet his UK counterpart, David Frost, around 1400 GMT in Brussels on Thursday.

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Brexit

Biden warns UK on #Brexit - No trade deal unless you respect Northern Irish peace deal

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US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden warned the United Kingdom that it must honour the Northern Irish peace deal as it extracts itself from the European Union or there would be no US trade deal, write and

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Biden said in a tweet.

“Any trade deal between the US and UK must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

Johnson unveiled legislation that would break parts of the Brexit divorce treaty relating to Northern Ireland, blaming the EU for putting a revolver on the table in trade talks and trying to divide up the United Kingdom.

He says the United Kingdom has to have the ability to break parts of the 2020 Brexit treaty he signed to uphold London’s commitments under the 1998 peace deal which ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland between pro-British Protestant unionists and Irish Catholic nationalists.

The EU says any breach of the Brexit treaty could sink trade talks, propel the United Kingdom towards a messy exit when it finally leaves informal membership at the end of the year and thus complicate the border between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

The EU’s Brexit negotiator told the bloc’s 27 national envoys that he still hoped a trade deal with Britain was possible, stressing that the coming days would be decisive, three diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Michel Barnier addressed the gathering on Wednesday and the three sources either participated in the discussion behind closed doors or were briefed on its content.

“Barnier still believes a deal is possible though the next days are key,” said one of the EU diplomatic sources.

Johnson told The Sun that the EU was being “abusive” to Britain and risking four decades of partnership.

He said the UK must “ring-fence” the Brexit deal “to put in watertight bulkheads that will stop friends and partners making abusive or extreme interpretations of the provisions.”

Societe Generale analysts said on Thursday they now see an 80% chance that Britain and the EU will fail to strike a trade deal before the end of the year.

Biden, who has talked about the importance of his Irish heritage, retweeted a letter from Eliot Engel, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, to Johnson calling on the British leader to honour the 1998 Good Friday peace deal.

Engel urged Johnson to “abandon any and all legally questionable and unfair efforts to flout the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

He called on Johnson to “ensure that Brexit negotiations do not undermine the decades of progress to bring peace to Northern Ireland and future options for the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

Engel said Congress would not support a free trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom if Britain failed to uphold its commitments with Northern Ireland.

The letter was signed by Representatives Richard Neal, William Keating and Peter King.

Johnson is pushing ahead with his plan.

His government reached a deal on Wednesday (16 September) to avert a rebellion in his own party, giving parliament a say over the use of post-Brexit powers within its proposed Internal Market Bill that breaks international law.

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Environment

European Green Deal: New financing mechanism to boost renewable energy

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The European Commission has published the rules for a new EU Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism, to apply from the start of 2021. This Mechanism will make it easier for member states to work together to finance and deploy renewable energy projects – either as a host or as a contributing country. The energy generated will count towards the renewable energy targets of all participating countries and feed into the European Green Deal ambition of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “To reduce Europe's greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 55% by 2030, we need to significantly increase the share of renewable energy. This mechanism provides an additional tool to facilitate investment in clean energy projects. It will encourage cooperation between member states and give a practical boost to our green recovery efforts in the coming years. It can help stimulate Europe's economies by getting large-scale projects off the ground and by supporting local SMEs and creating jobs.”

As foreseen under the Energy Union Governance Regulation, this Mechanism will be managed by the Commission, bringing together investors and project developers through regular public tenders. It enables ‘contributing member states' to pay voluntary financial contributions into the scheme, which will be used for renewable energy projects in interested member states (‘hosting member states'). More information is available here (including a link to the implementing regulation), in this factsheet and on the Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism webpage.

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