Belarus Plans To Deepen Cooperation With NATO

Russian news agency Tass reported that Belarus “will go ahead with its military-technical cooperation with Russia, but at the same time it finds it feasible to step up the dialog with NATO.”

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in his annual message to the country’s parliament: “We will go ahead with close military-technical cooperation with Russia. It is in the interests of Belarus to deepen the dialog with NATO step by step. This is important for easing the potential risks, bearing in mind that NATO’s infrastructures are near our borders.”

Lukashenko said that the West preferred to remain silent about the deployed of “the most advanced attack systems, including drones, in Poland and not only in Poland.” He then added: “But when we authorized the Polonez rocket system for service, there followed hue and cry… Why do you make such a fuss? We will have to protect ourselves if something go wrong, God forbid… We do not want war and you do not want war. Why do you deploy weapons near our borders then? We should act together, without deceiving each other. We should make steps towards each other, address other issues, take care of the economy and rear children.”

(Tass.com, April 21, 2017)

At a meeting with Nizhny Novgorod Region Governor Valery Shantsev, Lukashenko stressed that Belarus will not abandon Russia for the West. Lukashenko said: “If someone says we took sides with the West or with someone else, ignore it. We understand perfectly well that we are of no use to the West. Moreover, they have never been fond of me to say the least, and that hasn’t changed.

Lukashenko also added: “That’s what our life is about: we must not spoil relations with Russia, Ukraine or the West,” the president noted. “If we had a situation similar to that in Ukraine, nothing good would come out of it.”

(Tass.com, April 20, 2017)

Russia-NATO Relations

Montenegrin Membership In NATO

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov was asked to comment on Montenegro’s membership in NATO, during an interview with the Russian news agency Interfax:

Q: “Given that Donald Trump approved Montenegro’s membership in NATO and that the Montenegrin parliament will hold a vote, on April 28, on the country’s accession to the alliance, do we think that this is a threat to Russian security? How does Moscow assess this and what measures are being prepared?”

Meshkov: “It is no secret and it was repeatedly stated that the most important issues in the life of this or that country should be decided by their peoples. This is what the democratic process is all about. In this case, it is the Montenegrin people’s right to decide in a referendum whether they want their country to join NATO or not.

“As far as our relations are concerned, not only their accession to NATO as such but also a number of steps taken by the Montenegrin leaders – that they joined the anti-Russian sanctions and the anti-Russian smear campaigns in the local media – are certainly having and will inevitably have a negative effect on the entire range of Russia-Montenegro ties.”

(Mid.ru, April 24, 2017)

Stationing Of NATO Troops Close To The Russian Border

In another question, Meshkov mentioned that the stationing of NATO troops within 100 kilometers of the Russian border can be compared to the preparations for a foreign military intervention during the 1917-1921 civil war in Russia (when American, British, French, Czech and Japanese troops intervened in the fighting on behalf of the Whites).

Q: “Ahead of the next NATO summit in May, what remarks would you make concerning NATO’s advance towards Russian borders and the stationing of the NATO military, specifically a contingent from Germany, within 100 kilometers of the Russian border for the first time since the end of World War II? How far is Russia ready to go in its response to these steps?”

Meshkov: “As we look at NATO’s multinational military preparations close to our borders, we involuntarily recall the events that happened 100 years ago, when preparations were being made for a foreign military intervention during the Civil War in Russia. Of course, we live in a different world today, but our Western colleagues should remember that the main threat to international security comes from our common enemy, international terrorism.”

(Mid.ru, April 24, 2017)

Russian Diplomat Ulyanov: The U.S. Is Not Ready Yet To Restart Arms Control Dialogue

Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, said that the U.S. is not yet ready to restart a dialogue with Moscow on armament control. Ulyanov said: “This is an objective reality. This is the way the machinery of the American state is built, it needs some time after the new president has moved into the White House to work out new approaches and start translating them into life. This is called foreign policy review, and it is far from being completed… Russia is ready for a constructive conversation. If this conversation begins, and it must begin because the absence of such a dialog is an absolutely abnormal situation, we will be pushing our own agenda but at the same time seek solutions that would not damage our interests.”

(Tass.com, April 24, 2017)

Russian Analyst: Trump Is Testing An “Anaconda Plan” Against Russia

Russian analyst Sergey Filatov wrote in the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia that U.S. President Donald Trump is currently testing an “Anaconda plan” against Russia (i.e. to encircle Russia with military bases in order to create a belt of instability along Russia’s borders).

Filatov wrote: “In front of our eyes we see the old unfolding strategy of our ‘Western partners’ – the creation of the so called Anaconda plan – building a belt of destabilized territories along Russia’s borders. This is the old idea, well worked out in their military planning headquarters. They are not ready for a direct aggression though. That is why recently ‘Western partners’ started to fuel complex tensions along the borders. The destabilization tail engulfs all the territories from the Baltic States to the Korean peninsula. They think that simultaneously establishing multiple crisis points will enable them to divert and stretch Russian leadership’s attention from the Baltic to Japanese sea, while the military will have to overstretch its capabilities trying to counter new emerging threats.”

(Izvestia.ru, April 21, 2017)

Russia-Finland Relations

On May 3, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Finland. Izvestia reported that Special Adviser to Finland’s Ministry of Defense Juha Martelius said that Finland had never considered any plans to join NATO. Franz Klintsevich, first Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Defense Committee, commented: “Through NATO’s enlargement, the U.S. continues to tighten a noose around Russia, stationing its military bases and forming positions in strategic areas. Finland’s leadership is aware that after joining NATO the country’s territory will be subjected to serious and large-scale infrastructure changes, which the alliance will start carrying out. Finland is one of few countries, which understands objectively that the deployed bases are a potential target for strikes, in military terms.”

(Tass.com, May 3, 2017)

Russia Reacts To Albanian PM’s Statement On Greater Albania

Recently, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said that “a union between Albania and Kosovo” cannot be ruled out if EU membership prospects for the Western Balkans fade.

See full interview with Albanian PM Edi Rama published by POLITICO.eu

The Russian Foreign Ministry reacted as follows: “A series of recent statements by various Albanian politicians regarding the redrawing of borders in the Balkans have raised particular concern. We assert that, under the guise of unfounded accusations of attempts to destabilize southeastern Europe aimed at Russia, efforts are being made to implement the Greater Albania project, now based on the Albanian constitution, which gives Tirana the right to defend the interests of Albanians abroad. Under the guise of hypocritical talk about the need to stabilize the region under the NATO umbrella, the very foundations of stability are being shaken; a new policy course has been adopted to redraw the borders in the Balkans, which will inevitably increase the conflict potential.

“Such is the context for the statements by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and the ‘head’ of the self-proclaimed independent Kosovo Hashim Thaсi on their readiness to join forces in a single Greater Albania state. These statements were echoed by Jonuz Musliu, the head of the south Serbian municipality of Presevo Valley, mainly populated by Albanians, who announced the region’s will to become part of the enlarged state. Part of the same context is the notorious Tirana Platform adopted by the ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia and undermining its statehood.

“Indicatively, the main patrons of Tirana and Pristina – the United States and the EU – either remain timidly silent or issue common meaningless phrases. We cannot help but agree with the assessments of the events voiced by the Serbian Prime Minister, President-elect Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who resolutely condemned the Albanian politicians’ rhetoric and demanded an adequate response to what is happening from Brussels, Washington and key European countries. The bitter irony is that, as Mr. Vucic noted, if he allowed himself to publicly suggest uniting Serbia with Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina), he would ‘hang from a flagpole’ in Brussels.

We think it is necessary for the international community to jointly point out to Tirana and Albanian politicians in other Balkan countries that making territorial claims and speculating about redrawing borders is unacceptable. We call on our Western partners to abide by international law and common sense, but refrain from applying double standards as they sometimes tend to do.”

Russia Plans To Boost Military Cooperation With Serbia

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Zoran Djordjevic that Russia and Serbia are going to develop military cooperation. Shoigu said: “Our regular meetings once again confirm our interest in promoting cooperation that has been organized and is being developed between us both in the military and military-technical spheres… Unfortunately, the world is not becoming calmer and more stable and the events of the past decades related both to ‘color revolutions’ and various sorts of invasions and the violent overthrows of the leadership of countries do not lead to anything good.”

(Tass.com, April 25, 2017)

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