Britain has issued export licenses worth £$12 billion for the sale of military equipment to states deemed possible rights violators including Syria, Iran and China, lawmakers said. A report by a group of parliamentary panels said 3,000 licenses for arms and other equipment had been issued to those on the Foreign Office’s list of 27 countries of human rights concerns. The countries include Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Belarus and Zimbawe, the Committees on Arms Export Controls of parliament’s lower House of Commons said.
If an intelligence agency or foreign ministry were setting an exam to test the geopolitical analysis skills of its young recruits, Lithuania might prove a good case study. A former Soviet Baltic republic of 3 million people wedged between Poland, Belarus, Latvia and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, Lithuania is anxious to keep Moscow at arm’s length – but remains almost entirely dependent on it for energy. Having joined the European Union in 2004, the tiny, resource-poor country looks ardently to the west, while worrying about how to build a thicker buffer between itself and the big Russian bear observing it from 200 km (120 miles) to the east.
Russia will open its first military airbase in Belarus before the end of this year, air force commander Lieutenant General Vladimir Bondarev said Tuesday. The base will be near the city of Lida close to the borders of Poland and Lithuania, both of which are NATO members, Bondarev said in a report carried by Interfax. Lida was chosen for the base, which will host Su-27 fighter jets, because of it already has appropriate facilities, Bondarev said.
In November 2013 Vilnius will host the summit of Eastern Partnership, the EU program on closer cooperation with the post-Soviet countries which is operating since May 2009. Spreading of political and economic Western influence on the former Soviet republics concerns the Russian Federation, especially in the context of development of the Eurasian Economic Union project. According to the chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs Alexei Pushkov, the European Union recognizes Eurasian integration as a factor of European politics.
Kazakhstan has launched a new transit railway linking China to Europe, aiming to beat rival routes for journey time in the competition to handle a growing flow of goods along the ancient Silk Road trade route.
“Kazakhstan is a virtual bridge linking the East and the West,” Yerkin Meirbekov, deputy railway department chief at Kazakhstan’s Transport Ministry, said in an interview. “You can actually say this is the revival of the Silk Road.”Centuries ago, it would take months for caravans of camels and horses from China to reach Europe across the sun-scorched steppes and deserts of Central Asia to exchange silk for medicines, perfumes and precious stones.
Intelligence report: On Russia’s position to NATO anti-missile defence and possible incidents during Zapad 2013
Russia still wants to avoid elements of NATO’s anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence in close vicinity and proposes to the Alliance to divide Europe into responsibility areas, the Second Investigation Department under Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence, in charge of military intelligence, said in a 2012 report on threats to national security on Friday. The Investigation Department also Intentional and non-intentional land and air border violations and various other incidents are possible during Russian-Belarusian military exercises ‘Zapad 2013’ scheduled for the autumn.
As the United States pivots away from the Western world to face the burgeoning Pacific Rim, what wisdom can it carry over from its former stomping grounds to the new cockpit of geopolitics? Perhaps Washington can take a page out of Leopold Kohr’s book. The obscure Austrian philosopher once popularized the slogan “Small is Beautiful” — which has clearly never caught on in the States. Yet his theories on the importance of size in international relations might help Washington manage its decidedly outsized geopolitical challenges in Asia.
China is building an entire city in the forests near the Belarusian capital Minsk to create a manufacturing springboard between the European Union and Russia.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allotted an area 40 percent larger than Manhattan around Minsk’s international airport for the $5 billion development, which will include enough housing to accommodate 155,000 people, according to Chinese and Belarusian officials. Lukashenko is turning to China to help revive a $60 billion economy that’s needed $6.5 billion of bailouts from the International Monetary Fund and Russia since 2009.
Russia is engaged in a major buildup of both nuclear and conventional missile defense systems at the same time Moscow is seeking legal limits on U.S. missile defenses, according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military is developing and deploying an array of new and modernized anti-missile interceptors that are part of a strategic doctrine that calls for defending against what Moscow believes to be an increasing threat posed by offensive ballistic missiles, said U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports.
In 2013 Belarus and Russia will launch a program to prepare army units and a system to train control agencies and troops for radioelectronic warfare as part of the regional military force. The information was released by Belarusian Defense Minister Yuri Zhadobin after the session of the joint board of the Belarusian Defense Ministry and the Russian Defense Ministry on 23 April, BelTA has learned. According to the official, the session tabled the progress in implementing the second phase of the creation and development of the united radioelectronic warfare system.
Four S-300 systems, which will be shipped to Belarus by Russia, may be re-sold to pariah countries. This is how general Valer Fralou commented for the charter97.org web-site in the shipment of air-to-surface missile systems S-30 and the deployment of a Russian aviation base in Belarus. “Any military forces based in Belarus increase the potential of the Belarusian army. But this is only from the military point of view. One should not forget that Belarus is still a part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and we have a union state with Russia”, – the general noted.
Russia plans to deploy fighter jets in Belarus this year and eventually establish an air base in the former Soviet republic, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday. The moves would increase Russia’s military presence in Belarus, viewed by Moscow as a buffer between Russia and NATO, and could unnerve neighboring members of the Western alliance.”We have begun considering the plan to create a Russian air base with fighter jets here,” Shoigu said at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the capital, Minsk.
The West is becoming more and more alarmed about Zapad 2013 war games. NATO troops will carry out military exercises in Poland practising defence of Estonia, while Belarus and Russia will repel an imaginary attack from Poland: They plan to rehearse a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Warsaw, Polska Times reports. Tension between Russia and NATO has been growing since the beginning of the year. The Alliance prepares for Steadfast Jazz 2013 military exercises that will take place in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, while Belarus and Russia will carry out Zapad 2013 war games.
The EED, by comparison, will not be a part of the EU, but rather independent, allowing it to take more outwardly political actions. Its scope will also be narrower, focused on Europe’s “neighbors,” a loosely-defined group of Mediterranean and Eastern European countries that includes, Pomianowski noted, many countries involved in the Arab Spring.
Taking off the political gloves. Koert Debeuf, a European parliamentarian whose blog posts on Egyptian political reform were recently discussed by the Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Egyptian television, welcomes the EED’s stated goals. “I think Europe should try to find a way to stop being scared,” he told DW. “There are organizations [in Egypt], for example, that give media training to political parties and politicians. They exist, and no one wants to fund them.”
THE authoritarian president of Belarus has praised his regime’s secret police as representing the “best traditions” of the Cheka, the feared forerunner of Soviet Russia’s KGB.
Alexander Lukashenko used his annual “State Security Day” address to boost that his secret police could trace its lineage back to the Cheka, which murdered and tortured thousands of people during the Red Terror campaign in post-revolutionary Russia.
Surveillance State: Ecuador Implements “World’s First” Countrywide Facial- and Voice-Recognition System
Ecuador has installed a nationwide system that lets government officials ID “several million” people by their voices and faces, Slate reported. If an Ecuadorian agency taps a phone line, for example, it is now able to match the voices in a call with a database of “voiceprints” of known criminals, suspects and persons of interest. The voice system is 97 percent accurate, says the system’s maker, SpeechPro
Russia’s foreign policy will focus during the third term of Putin for integration in the post-Soviet space. Such a conclusion can be drawn from “the foreign policy concept of the Russian Federation”, developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The concept pays great attention to the CIS Customs Union, EurAsEC Eurasian Economic Union and the future), the CSTO and the Union State of RUSSIA and Belarus (which previously had raised the concept). It is expected that the intensive integration processes will join and Ukraine.
Gold is now a strategic metal for present and future SCO governments, which between them have over 40% of the world’s population; and now that the price of gold is re-establishing its rising trend, understanding its future role as a replacement for the US dollar is increasingly urgent, because gold is wealth and this wealth is being transferred from west to east.
Sovereignty curtailed?: Armenia agrees to ask CSTO permission for hosting other states’ military facilities
On October 4, the Parliament ratified the Protocol on the Location of Military Installations in Collective Security Treaty Organization (OSCE) Member Countries that was signed still in December 2011 and under which Armenia is not entitled to host military forces or other infrastructure of other states without the permission of the CSTO, a Russia-led defense alliance
It seems that a possible U.S. attack on Iran is at hand. In recent days, Iran is making frantic efforts to find allies to repel aggression. Last week, Secretary of Defense Persian state A. Vahidi made a sensational statement. According to the head of the military department, it’s time to create a “military alliance of Muslim countries to reflect external aggression to them, and to protect the Palestinian people.”
Observers immediately drew an analogy with the Russian-led military-political alliance CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization Security) and was named the alleged formation of a new “Islamic CSTO” . Recall that now the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty includes six countries: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan .
As potential clients go, the brash expat British businessman and his Uzbek colleague could not have been less sympathetic characters.
They were, they said, trusted representatives of the “Azimov Group”, an agent for the central Asian government of Uzbekistan – a dictatorship responsible for killings, human rights violations and child labour – and also representing its cotton industry, which wanted to sell to the West.
Who better to help them than a selection of Britain’s lobbyists?
The European Union’s response to the Arab awakening again highlighted its inability to react swiftly and decisively to extraordinary events unfolding in its neighborhood, Hrant Kostanyan and Magdalena Nasieniak write in a report for the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies. But the new European Endowment for Democracy has the potential to make the EU a committed, pro-active and effective leader of democracy assistance, free of nationally-driven decisions, European ‘turf wars’ and cumbersome bureaucracy.
Negotiations between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are advancing over the creation of a Eurasian Union, which would abolish customs duties and unify economic policies amongst participating countries.
In February a Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) was established, with the fully ratified economic union expected to enter into force by 2015. The lengthy process of legal codification and harmonisation is under way.
EU member states agreed to create a European endowment for democracy.
The fund should become operational by next year and will primarily target EU neighbouring countries such as Belarus, where people are routinely jailed for showing opposition against President Alexander Lukashenko.
The fund was the brainchild of the Polish EU presidency in June 2011 and will function primarily as a grant-awarding institution.
Pro-democracy and social movements, young leaders, civil society, independent media, foundations and educational institutions among others are its intended target beneficiaries.
The Belarusian KGB proposes new strange initiatives to demonstrate its activity.
As Belorusski Partizan has learned, the KGB obliged special departments and personnel departments at all state institutions, ministries and governmental bodies to monitor foreign holiday trips of their mid and high level managers.
Those wanting to have holidays in Turkey, Egypt and even Ukraine must apply to a boss asking permission to travel abroad. Those who already had a vacation abroad submit a written explanation informing they were not recruited by anybody, did not disclose secret information about Belarus and did not discredit the country.
An apparently random movement of a Russian Special Forces battalion located in the Central Military District (MD) may be an indication that the General Staff is increasingly concerned about future security in Central Asia. Moreover, it may be an additional sign of the persistent experimentation and policy reversals on reform that are endemic to the Armed Forces. In order to understand the significance of the redeployment of the Special Forces unit in Novosibirsk Oblast, it is important to note the role played by similar forces assigned to rapid reaction elements of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and their recent exercises in Belarus. These elite units retain higher readiness levels than the rest of the Russian Ground Forces and seem to be rehearsing changes in operational tactics
The Diamond – an elite special forces unit in Belarus – is the personal security detail of President Alexander Lukashenko.
In a secret location outside the country, a former Diamond officer, Igor Makar, spoke to EUobserver about his experiences and why he fled to seek refuge in the EU.
He said the Lukashenko system has turned rank-and-file police and the state security service, the KGB, into “criminals.”
“The state itself makes criminals out of the police because they are entirely dependent on the state and carry out any order [they are given]. If the order is not fulfilled, then you will be fired and you can no longer feed your family,” he explained.
Heads of state from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine are among those gathering for a regular summit of the Eurasian Union in Moscow.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said further economic integration among states of the former Soviet Union will be discussed.
According to ITAR-TASS, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will attend as an observer.
One of Britain’s largest lobbying companies has been secretly recorded boasting about its access to the heart of the Government and how it uses the “dark arts” to bury bad coverage and influence public opinion. An undercover investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published in The Independent today, has taped senior executives at Bell Pottinger:
* Claiming they have used their access to Downing Street to get David Cameron to speak to the Chinese premier on behalf of one of their business clients within 24 hours of asking him to do so;
Aliaksei Yafimau shudders at the memory of the burly thug who threatened to kill his relatives. Yafimau, who installs satellite television systems in Babrujsk, Belarus, answered an advertisement in 2010 offering easy money to anyone willing to sell a kidney.
He saw it as a step toward getting out of poverty. Instead, Yafimau, 30, was thrust into a dark journey around the globe that had him, at one point, locked in a hotel room for a month in Quito, Ecuador, waiting for surgeons to cut out an organ, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its December issue.
Belarus is the last Soviet economy in Europe. Its state-owned enterprises still produce 70 percent of gross domestic product, and the state regulates production and the main prices. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that Belarus has lived on refining subsidized Russian oil and gas for the West, while exporting the finest Soviet appliances to the Russian provinces. This model worked for a surprisingly long time, but the Kremlin harbors no love for Lukashenko, and the basic cause of the crisis is that Russia has cut its energy subsidies from 15 percent of Belarus GDP to 7 percent this year. Meanwhile the Russian provinces have become too sophisticated to purchase any Soviet products.
Belarus’ authoritarian president is trying to tighten his grip on the ex-Soviet nation with new legislation that boosts the already sweeping powers of the secret police, still known as the KGB.
As well as lifting restrictions on the KGB’s use of weapons, the legislation also makes it even easier for President Alexander Lukashenko to put his political opponents behind bars. A new ban on receiving foreign funds carries a two-year prison sentence, while simply calling for an anti-government protest can send someone to prison for three years.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is releasing political prisoners in hope of getting loans from the IMF. After the unexpected pardons over recent weeks, only about a dozen political prisoners remain in Belarusian jails. Among them are Lukashenko’s rivals in the December 2010 presidential elections, serving up to six years of hard labour.
Insiders warn that this is not a thaw, just a new step in the regime’s strategy. One of the released dissidents, Alexander Atroshchanko, has said prison authorities were openly calling the inmates “hostages” and “commodities” to be traded for loans.
The Central Asian state of Kazakhstan will integrate its national airspace defences into a joint network led by Russia, senior Russian and Kazakhstan army officers said Thursday.
‘We already have bilateral systems in operation with Belarus and Armenia, and in the future there will be one with Kazakhstan as well,’ said Valery Gerasimov, vice chief of Russian army staff, according to the Interfax news agency.
Saken Zhasuzakov, Kazakhstan’s vice minister of defence, in comments reported from the Russian city of Ashuluk, said his country’s government already was purchasing late-model Russian air defence weaponry, and after the kit was fielded the two country would defend their airspace jointly.
In principle, all post-Soviet countries share similar authoritarian tendencies. The only ones that stand out in any way are, on the one hand, the Baltic states, with their more European mentalities and, on the other hand, Islamic states. In these latter countries, the regimes are as authoritarian as Russia, Ukraine, or Belarus, but the character of the political process is made more complex by the conflict of secular authoritarianism with Islam. This makes Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan subject to a different analysis, outside the scope of this article.
In the Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus of the early 1990s, there was a very strong demand for an effective economic system that was able to rescue people from the kind of shortages that had blighted the Soviet Union. That very system appeared just about everywhere in the post-Soviet world; and despite its many shortcomings, the model has been accepted by the population.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said he supports calls for Russia to merge with its western neighbor, Belarus.
“This is possible and very desirable,” Putin said when asked at a pro-Kremlin youth camp on Lake Seliger if Russia and Belarus could merge into one entity.