NATOSource|Daily News of the World's Most Powerful Alliance

From the Guardian: Last week the Nato-backed Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, based in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, held its inaugural annual conference, and the need and wisdom of creating an offensive strategy was centre stage. Nato's hawks argue that unless you develop an active deterrence strategy and threaten your opponents with cybergeddon, then you are critically vulnerable. The doves argue that it is neither in Chinese nor Russian interests to turn the web into an arena of brinkmanship with the west (and almost all Nato cyber strategists agree that Russia and China pose the most serious military threat to the west in cyberspace).

Pavel Felgenhauer presents several pieces of information that could explain why sales of Red Storm Rising might be going through the roof in Georgia.

From the Jamestown Foundation: While the Obama visit is being prepared, Moscow is continuing military and propaganda preparations for a possible full-scale military invasion to change the present pro-Western regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. Senior Russian generals and diplomats have been accusing Georgia of preparing "a new aggression" (EDM, June 18). Last week a Georgian Lieutenant Alik Bzhania, 35, who served in the Georgian coast guard and apparently defected to Russian-controlled Abkhazia, was promoted by the Gazprom-owned liberal Ekho Moskvy radio. He was promptly given asylum and held a high profile press conference in Moscow. Bzhania announced, "Saakashvili is preparing an aggression and I do not want to fight Russia" (Interfax, June 19). A Moscow journalist that interviewed Bzhania, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Jamestown that the orders to publicize the defector came directly from Putin's office. If Russia is planning full-scale military action in Georgia, it clearly needs an excuse that it is in self-defense - countering an alleged "Georgian aggression . . ."

On June 29, Russian troops begin massive military exercises on Georgia's borders as well as in occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia - Kavkaz 2009 (EDM, June 18). The exercises are planned to end on July 6, when Obama lands in Moscow. The troops will be deployed and fully ready to go into action for at least several weeks after July 6, which apparently makes July the most dangerous month in the troubled South Caucasus. Obama's visit to Moscow may be the last slim hope to avoid a war: if the U.S. president understands the threat and decides to put Georgia at the center of his negotiations instead of START -which is deadlocked anyway by the BMD linkage. It may be still possible to pull off a diplomatic miracle by pressing or persuading Putin to stand back. (photo: Jamestown Foundation)
Yulia Latynina provides another piece of the puzzle and asks a penetrating question.
Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia’s forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the “Caucasus 2009” military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that “Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit.”
This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?

From the Jamestown Foundation: [Turkey's Chief of Staff, General Ilker] Basbug was implicitly voicing Turkey's complaint that some NATO members were not sensitive to Turkey's struggle against the PKK. Ankara argues that the complacency of some European countries toward the activities of the PKK in Europe undermines the spirit of solidarity within the Alliance. Therefore, Basbug sent a warning by saying: "There is no guarantee that those countries unaffected by terrorism today will not be targeted tomorrow."

Basbug recalled Turkey's decades old struggle against the PKK, and maintained that the country will pursue a comprehensive approach in its own fight that considers all aspects of the issue. Nonetheless, he added that "it is futile to think that economic and socio-cultural measures alone might end terrorism, while terrorist groups remain armed. Therefore, we are determined to fight against the terrorist group [the PKK] until it is completely disbanded and [the terrorists] lay down their arms" (www.tgrthaber.com, June 22).
(photo: Jamestown Foundation)
From Turkish Weekly: The presence of Russian troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is inappropriate, NATO Secretary General Special Representative in Central Asia and South Caucasus Robert Simmons told reporters in the Security Forum of Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council which is underway in Astana.

"We believe that the presence of Russian troops is inappropriate and a document which was signed under the aegis of France, is not fulfilled," Simons said. "Russia's military contingent should be withdrawn from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as today it is greater than it was before the conflict erupted."

Perhaps the most eye catching story from this week's meeting of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in Astana . An unflattering geostrategic analogy from Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's ambassador to NATO, and a swift defense of NATO's honor by Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. If Medvedev followed Rogozin's advice, Moscow would have a more success offering pies to the former Soviet Republics instead of tanks, cyber attacks, and energy shortages.

From Russia Today: The Russian diplomat gave a very vivid description of how he sees relations between NATO, Russia and former soviet republics, in particular Kazakhstan:
It may happen that a loyal wife is courted by some men, who give her flowers. NATO is courting Kazakhstan.”
“You can’t compare our relation, a family relation, with that with some stranger coming to your hope with pie and trying to make you like him,” Rogozin said.

The comments made at the sidelines of the forum didn’t impress NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. When cited Rogozin’s words, he said he didn’t agree at all.
“I would express my disagreement with Mr. Rogozin, if he did make these statements. I don’t see NATO as anyone’s lover. We have a political role of our own,” the official said.
(graphic: Vladimir Kremlev RT)
Eurasianet has more on this story.
From atlantic-community.org: However, although the members of the Alliance have taken steps to reassure Russia, as a result of their diverging national interests, they have been unwilling to offer marriage. Cohabitation arrangements, such as the NATO-Russia Council, have served useful functions, without offering a satisfactory long-term solution . . .

While the US and its European allies shall not be enticed by Russian mermaids, if Moscow's inclusion into the Alliance does not deserve serious consideration, ceasing to insist that NATO membership is open to all may constitute a first and wise step in the right direction: only then would the Alliance have the chance of another sixty successful years of thriving existence.

From RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty: ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev did not attend the third forum of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) in Astana, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
His greetings speech were conveyed by Kazakh Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin. The message was in English, and no translation into Kazakh or Russian was provided . . .
The current event is NATO's first-ever gathering on that level held on the territory of the former Soviet Union.
(photo: NATO)
From defpro.com: (6/24/09) The UK has taken command of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), a force of five ships from Greece, Italy, Turkey, the UK and the United States, traditionally based in the Mediterranean in order to promote security and stability across the region . . .

This change in command will see the UK having heavy involvement in the ongoing Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR to combat the spread of international terrorism and organised crime such as people trafficking.

However, the new command presages a step change in operations as the group prepares to transit through the Suez Canal in order to conduct counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa, taking over from the current activities of its sister task group, SNMG1.
From NYTimes.com: MOSCOW — Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament ratified an agreement on Thursday to allow the United States to maintain operations at an airport that has become a key support base and transit hub for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

From NYTimes.com: MOSCOW — Kyrgyzstan has essentially reversed a decision to close an American air base that is central to the NATO mission in nearby Afghanistan, after the United States acceded to sharply higher rent and to minor restrictions on the site, officials said on Tuesday . . .

One major change, though, is the rent. It will rise to $60 million annually from $17.4 million, Kadyrbek Sarbayev, Kyrgyzstan’s foreign minister, told the Kyrgyz Parliament on Tuesday.

Washington will also pay $36.6 million to expand the airport, and contribute tens of millions of dollars toward economic development and the fight against drug trafficking, Mr. Sarbayev said. He said the agreement would be for one year, and be contingent on the situation in Afghanistan.