Archive for October, 2013


October 31, 2013

By Michael Burleigh, Viking, $36.00, 587 pages

Washington Times on October 30, 2013, published a review by John Taylor of Michael Burleigh’s new book, Small Wars, Faraway Places. In the decades after World War II, much of the world feared a calamitous nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Excerpts below:

Ultimately, the Cold War remained cold, and the peace was disturbed primarily by a succession of brush-fire wars that often were irrelevant to the superpowers’ rivalry.

Michael Burleigh, a Briton who has written extensively about war in the 20th century, takes the reader on a tour of conflicts ranging in size from the Huk uprising in the Philippines to the Korean War.

The total number of casualties in Mr. Burleigh’s wars was sometimes small. The author notes that fewer Europeans were killed by terrorists during the emergency in 1950s Kenya than died in traffic accidents there. Yet Mr. Burleigh’s little wars could be as bloody as any campaign of World War II. In Algeria, Muslim terrorists cut the throats of any Algerians “who served [France], drank alcohol or smoked.”

Insurgent leaders often sprang from their country’s elite, but their followers came from among the marginalized…Communist ideology played a role in most of the conflicts considered by Mr. Burleigh…

Success against guerrillas depended on a variety of factors. Perhaps the most successful counterinsurgency was that conducted by the British in Malaya in the 1950s, where conditions were uniquely favorable. The insurgents were ethnic Chinese, a group distrusted by native Malays and geographically isolated from outside aid. In the end, more than 400,000 ethnic Chinese were transferred to concentration camps and thus isolated from the Malay population.

The campaign against Huk guerrillas in the Philippines succeeded for similar reasons. The insurgents were confined to the southern islands, and because the United States had granted independence to the Philippines, the insurgents never gained traction politically. In Mr. Burleigh’s words, “the Huks were primarily motivated by a ‘Red Christ’ vision of social justice” and a visceral hatred of landowners.

The most complex insurgency that the author considers is the campaign to expel France from Algeria. There, the French had to deal not only with the largely sectarian independence movement, but also with the fierce determination on the part of European settlers that Algeria must remain part of France. The Algerians, though beset with factionalism, made good use of sanctuaries in Morocco and Tunisia. In the end, it was Charles de Gaulle who gave in.

In Vietnam as in Algeria, the French fought a losing battle against a determined foe that made extensive use of border sanctuaries. Moreover, the Vietnamese communists were recipients of aid from China and Russia. The French were undaunted. The author quotes Gen. Henri Navarre as telling his staff, “Victory is a woman. She does not give herself except to those who know how to take her.” But victory’s charms eluded the French…Mr. Burleighnotes approvingly that Sir Gerald Templer was the first high commissioner to Malaya “to shake hands with his own domestic servants, with whom he also danced the conga on special occasions.”

Mr. Burleigh writes with engaging wit, but rarely analyzes his complex insurgencies in depth. Had he chosen fewer subjects, he might have demonstrated the same insight as he brought to his earlier “The Third Reich.” Instead, Winston Churchill might have said of the current volume, “This pudding has no theme.”

Biographer and historian John M. Taylor lives in McLean, VA.


October 30, 2013

The Heritage Foundation on October 25, 2013, published a Backgrounder on the Baltic states. These three states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have proven to be staunch American allies since they regained their independence in the early 1990s. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, each has made huge progress in implementing democracy, rule of law, economic freedom, and developing a strong national defense. They accomplished this by aligning themselves with the West—particularly the United States—while rejecting Russian calls to remain neutral or inside the Russian sphere of influence after the end of the Cold War. Excerpts below:

While small in size and population, the Baltic states represent something much bigger geopolitically: They are staunch defenders of economic freedom, liberal democracy, and human rights. They experienced Russian treachery during more than five decades of Soviet occupation in a way that few other countries ever did. This horrific experience means that the Baltic states do not take for granted the democracy, liberty, and security they enjoy today. Consequently, they have become a beacon of hope among countries of the former Soviet Union. The U.S. should deepen the U.S.–Baltic defense and security relationship by proactively seeking new areas of cooperation and building on old ties. It is in America’s and NATO’s interests to do so.

Since the 1990s the Baltic states have focused on seven areas of deeper cooperation:

1.Baltic Battalion. Established in 1994 with the help of the Danes, the Baltic Battalion, also known as BALTBAT, is a combined infantry battalion consisting of soldiers from all three Baltic states. This was the first of the collaborative defense projects undertaken by the Baltics since they regained their independence and has since provided the framework for other collaborations.

2. Baltic Defence College. Established in 1999 with the help of the Danes and Norwegians, the Baltic Defence College (BDC), provides a Joint Command and General Staff Course (JCGSC), Higher Command Studies Course (HCSC), and The Civil Servants Course (CSC). Military graduates of the college go on to work on international staffs, serve as chiefs of staff of military regions or at infantry brigade level, work in policymaking, and take on long-term planning positions in their home Ministry of Defense. Civilian graduates of the CSC return to their home countries to work on national security and defense policy.

3. Baltic Naval Squadron. Established in 1997, the Baltic Naval Squadron, also known as BALTRON, is a combined naval force that focuses on mine-countermeasure operations. As mentioned, the threat from unexploded ordnance left over from previous world wars in the Baltic Sea region is a serious concern. BALTRON is an excellent example of small states with a shared security interest working together in an intergovernmental way to meet defense requirements.

4. Baltic Air Surveillance Network. Established in 2000, the Baltic Air Surveillance Network, also known as BALTNET, serves as a regional air surveillance and command and control hub. It was partially funded by the U.S. and Norway, and by 2002, General Joseph W. Ralston, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, called the air surveillance system “one of the best I’ve ever seen. We’d love to have it at NORAD in Alaska.” BALNET is located at the Lithuanian Air Force’s Airspace Control Center at Karmelava and supports the Baltic Air Policing mission. Like other joint Baltic defense initiatives, the command of BALTNET rotates and staff is provided by the three states.

5. Baltic Air Policing. Baltic Air Policing was established in 2004 to enforce the sovereign airspace of the three Baltic countries; NATO recently agreed that it will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Realizing that it was not feasible for the three Baltic countries to procure a fast-jet capability required to protect Baltic airspace, NATO decided that it should take up the task as a permanent part of its collective security mission and that the mission should continue on indefinitely. NATO contributions change every four months and some NATO countries contribute more than others. Although Baltic Air Policing was recognized as a good example of NATO’s Smart Defense initiative at the Chicago Summit in 2012, in reality, it was the natural extension of the comprehensive system of air surveillance that has been in place since the 1970s.

Currently, Baltic Air Policing is conducted from the military air base section of Šiauliai International Airport in Lithuania, which is the largest military airport in the Baltic region. There are backup air bases located at Riga International Airport and, in the future, Lielvārde air base in Latvia. The Estonians operate Ämari Air Base, which also serves as a backup for the Baltic Air Policing mission. Ämari Air Base is already used by the U.S. for training exercises, and along with Lielvārde, has the potential to perform even a greater role when it reaches full operational capability by 2015.

As NATO continues down the path of Smart Defense, lessons can be learned from the Baltic states’ willingness to pool and share capabilities. First, grandiose pan-European pooling and sharing projects are unlikely to work as intended. Pooling and sharing works best on a small sub-regional level, such as the Baltics. Second, pooling and sharing works best on military capabilities that are defensive in nature. Because the terms under which the said capability would be used are usually predetermined, there is no disputing the use of the capability. Third, the Baltics pool and share capability in a region where there is a shared view of the threats. It is unlikely that Baltic-style military cooperation would work on a pan-NATO basis because Portugal does not share the same security challenges as Norway, for example. Finally, pooling and sharing in the Baltics is done in such a way that no country loses sovereignty or control over a particular capability.[59]Contributions and command time are made and allocated on an equitable and rotational basis between the three Baltic states.

6. Host-nation support. Another way the Baltic states contribute to NATO is through a focus on host-nation support. The combined armed forces of all three of the Baltic militaries could fit comfortably inside a large college football stadium, and most of their military hardware comfortably placed in the adjoining parking lot. Consequently, the Baltics understand that there is no degree of pooling resources that can deliver the level of capability required in the event of an armed conflict by an aggressive neighbor.

Providing host-nation support demonstrates to NATO allies that the Baltic states are serious about NATO playing a role in the region by building the infrastructure such as barracks, airfields, and telecommunications centers that could accommodate a large influx of NATO troops if a crisis were to arrive in the region. This is far cheaper than permanently basing large numbers of NATO troops in the region, and during a time of relatively peaceful relations with neighbors, delivers a NATO capability without seeming overly provocative.

Whenever possible, the United States should promote and sell its combat-tested military equipment to the Baltic states.

1. Joint military hardware procurement. Joint procurement of military hardware is another way in which the Baltic states collaborate. Modern and capable military technology is not cheap, so it is beneficial that the Baltics work closely together in this area when possible. Collaboration in this area is made easier since all three share the same regional security risks, and common equipment will likely mean lower unit and life-maintenance costs for Baltic taxpayers. Earlier this year, the Baltic states signed a deal to jointly purchase ammunition for Carl Gustav recoilless rifles from Sweden’s Saab. Buying the ammunition jointly will save money and time.

Each Baltic state has made it clear that the modernization of its land forces is a national priority between now and 2020, so there is much opportunity for the U.S. to promote its battle-tested equipment.

The U.S. has a history of selling battle-tested military hardware to the Baltics. Therefore, it is natural that the U.S. is active in promoting U.S. military hardware and the military-to-military relationship that goes with it. Choosing U.S. equipment will ensure an American presence in the Baltics in a way it would otherwise not be if the Baltics picked the Swedish alternative, for example.

Whenever possible, the United States should promote and sell its combat-tested military equipment to the Baltic states.

Always Room for Improvement

There is ample room for deeper relations between the U.S. and the Baltic states, particularly in joint military training and defense procurement. It is clear that the Baltic states are committed to transatlantic security. In light of the Obama Administration’s failed “reset” with Russia and the so-called pivot to Asia, the U.S. should find opportunities to increase defense and security cooperation with the Baltic states as a way to recalibrate its focus on Eastern Europe.

In doing so, the U.S. should:

 Show America’s gratitude and appreciation. The White House, State Department, Department of Defense, and Congress should use opportunities to express publicly America’s thanks for the Baltic states’ contributions to NATO and to congratulate them on how far they have come since the end of the Cold War.

 Establish a permanent military presence in the Baltic region. There are strong indications that the Baltic states desire a permanent U.S. military presence in the region. This does not have to mean establishing a huge garrison of U.S. troops. In 2012, the U.S. Air Force established a small detachment at a Polish air base that hosts periodic rotations of U.S. aircraft. A similar air detachment should be considered for the Baltics. This would offer more opportunities for joint military training and demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Consider using the Baltic states as part of its global prepositioning program. The U.S. Marine Corps’ only land-based prepositioning site for military equipment in the world is in Norway. This facility has proven useful for supporting the mission of the U.S. Marine Corps in Europe. If the requirement arises for another land-based prepositioning site, the U.S. should consider the Baltics. This location would complement the focus placed by the Baltic states on host-nation support and would demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

Consider establishing a Baltic Sea Rotation Force. The U.S. Marine Corps currently operates a Black Sea Rotational Force that consists of a special-purpose Marine air-ground task force (SPMAGTF). Although the Black Sea SPMAGTF carried out a training exercise in Lithuania in 2012, the main focus of the task force is the Black Sea and Caucasus regions. The U.S. should consider the value of establishing a similar task force for the Baltic Sea region. Such a task force would offer more opportunities for joint military training for the Baltic states as well as for Poland, Finland, and Sweden. Furthermore, such a task force would demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security.

 Reiterate America’s commitment to NATO’s Article 5. There is a perception in parts of Europe that transatlantic security is a lower priority for the Obama Administration than it was for previous Administrations. The Obama Administration could demonstrate America’s commitment to NATO this autumn by sending a sizable contribution to Steadfast Jazz 2013. Considering the degree of importance attached to Steadfast Jazz 2013 by America’s NATO allies, the 200 troops provided by the U.S. sends the wrong message.

Explore areas of maritime security cooperation in the Persian Gulf. If they are willing, the U.S. should explore opportunities for the Estonian and Lithuanian navies to contribute to CTF-52[85] in the Persian Gulf. The U.K.’s Royal Navy leads the world in terms of counter-mine maritime operations and plays a very important role in the Persian Gulf. The Estonians operate the same advanced Sandown Class MCMVs and have a close military relationship with the U.K. The Lithuanians operate British-made Hunt Class MCMVs. Participation in CTF-52 would be an important contribution to maritime security in one of the world’s most important shipping areas.

 Increase senior leader engagement with the Baltic states. Symbolism matters in international affairs. After taking office in February 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry travelled more than 169,000 miles and visited 30 countries before he finally visited one of America’s Eastern European partners. His tardiness was noticed in Eastern European capitals. The U.S. should regularly dispatch senior officials to the region to reinforce America’s commitment to transatlantic security.

Ensure that security cooperation will continue after withdrawal from Afghanistan. One of the biggest concerns of the Baltic states is that U.S.–Baltic military cooperation will be reduced when the mission in Afghanistan winds down. The U.S. must work with its Baltic partners to find new areas of military cooperation. The Baltics are eager to continue contributing to international security missions and it would be a wasted opportunity if the U.S. failed to work with them.

 Work with Baltic allies to improve wounded warrior and veteran care. The Baltic states could benefit greatly from U.S. experiences in the field of wounded warrior care and long-term veteran welfare. The Baltic states, especially Estonia, have suffered disproportionately high casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just like in the U.S., many combat veterans are suffering from mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 Continue with joint training exercises. There is an old military adage that you should train like you fight. General Breedlove told The Army Times in a recent interview that the U.S. has canceled 45 percent of military-to-military training events with European partners.[87] Saber Strike and Steadfast Jazz are the types of exercises that should be spared from cancellation. The Department of Defense should prioritize U.S. training missions in the Baltic region over others in Europe to ensure that defense cuts and sequestration do not impact U.S.–Baltic relations.

 Continue special forces cooperation after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Baltics have placed themselves on the map in terms of special operations and it would be a waste if the U.S.–Baltic special forces relationship disappeared when combat operations in Afghanistan end. The U.S. should work with the Baltic nations to find new areas of cooperation in the field of special operations. This might include allowing a liaison officer from each Baltic state in the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Commit to a speedy and robust ballistic missile defense in Europe. It is very likely that ballistic missile defense–capable ships will someday operate in the Baltics as part of NATO’s missle defense system. The Baltic states view NATO’s ballistic missile defense system as a fundamental part of the Alliance’s defense. The abrupt cancellation of the Third Site in 2009 combined with reductions in missile defense spending makes some in the Baltic region and Eastern Europe nervous.

 Enhance cybersecurity cooperation with the Baltic states. An increased American contribution to the Estonian Center of Excellence on cyber defense is welcome. However, it represents only a small portion of existing and potential U.S.–Baltic cooperation in this area. The U.S. should explore ways to broaden cooperation in cyber defense with the goal of sharing experience, expanding contingency planning, training and exercises, as well as developing capabilities.

 Ensure that NATO remains a nuclear security alliance. NATO’s 2012 Deterrence and Defense Posture Review stated that the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance provide the supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies.[88] The U.S. should not underestimate how important this issue is to the Baltic states. As long as the West could face a nuclear threat from any part of the world, NATO needs to remain a nuclear alliance.

 Help facilitate U.S. LNG exports to the Baltic region. The security of energy supplies is a serious concern of the Baltic states. It also has an impact on military readiness which is why the U.S. and NATO should be concerned. The United States could do more to help by providing the Baltic states with access to sources other than Russia for natural gas. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would lift restrictions against the export of U.S. natural gas to NATO allies. The sooner restrictions can be lifted, the stronger NATO and the Baltic states will become.

Promote export of battle-tested U.S. defense equipment. The U.S. should work closely to determine how U.S. military hardware can best meet the defense needs of the Baltic states. When a government buys American military equipment it not only receives battle-tested equipment, it also gains a deeper military relationship with the U.S. The U.S. should also consider gifting excess military equipment being removed from the force structure to the Baltics.

Ensure robust U.S. participation in the Estonian and Lithuanian Centers of Excellence. The U.S. has extended experience dealing with cyber security and energy security, and the two Centers of Excellence could benefit greatly from increased U.S. participation. U.S. participation would also provide an opportunity to influence the debate inside NATO regarding cybersecurity and energy security.

 Assist the Latvians with the development of their Center of Excellence. Latvia is the only Baltic nation that does not currently host a NATO Center of Excellence, though it plans to open a Strategic Communications Center of Excellence by the end of 2014. The U.S. has much experience in strategic communications and should therefore assist Latvia during the development process of its Center of Excellence. Once it becomes operational, the U.S. should participate in the Center of Excellence.

Continue to send students to the Baltic Defence College (BDC). American officers already attend the BDC. The U.S. should not view American participation in the BDC as low-hanging fruit for budget savings. U.S. student enrollment at the BDC allows U.S. Service personnel to learn more about NATO allies in Eastern Europe and allows U.S. Service personnel to share their experiences from more than a decade of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in an institutional setting. This is a benefit for both the U.S. and its NATO allies.

Offer opportunities for the Baltic states to be global actors. As NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, most European governments are looking forward to scaling back their already limited defense and security commitments. This is not the case for the Baltic states, which want to continue supporting U.S. and NATO missions. The U.S. is in a position to help the Baltic states achieve this ambition. Areas that the U.S. should focus on include special forces operations and counter-mine and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf.

 Leverage the U.S.–U.K. Special Relationship in the Baltics. The U.S. and the U.K. are more effective actors in transatlantic security when they work together. For historical reasons, the U.K. has very close relations with the Baltic states, especially with Estonia. The U.S. should work with the U.K. to identify areas of deeper defense and security cooperation with the Baltics.

 Work with the Nordic countries to improve relations with the Baltics. Good U.S. relations with the Nordic countries will mean closer relations with the Baltics. Historically, the Baltic states have had a very close relationship with the Nordic countries. NATO members Denmark and Norway played an important role in the development of Baltic military capabilities since the end of the Cold War. Although not members of NATO, Sweden and Finland also have a close security relationship with the Baltics. Access to Swedish and Finnish territory and airspace will be crucial if NATO is called on to defend the Baltic states. The U.S. needs to find areas of cooperation with the Nordic countries.


The three Baltic states have come a long way since re-establishing their independence after the fall of the USSR and the end of Soviet occupation. Economically, the Baltic region is prosperous and stable. Democracy and the rule of law have flourished. In terms of defense and security the Baltic states have done what many thought at the time was impossible: They developed modern, Western-trained armed forces, joined NATO, and have served gallantly and selflessly in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balkans. Due in part to leadership and commitment from successive U.S. Administrations, the Baltic region is secure and prosperous.

In terms of security and defense cooperation, the biggest concern for many in the Baltic states is that the U.S. might disengage from Europe due to the “pivot” to Asia and become disinterested in NATO once the mission in Afghanistan ends. The U.S. needs to prove otherwise—with actions, not words. A U.S. presence in the Baltics is wanted and will go a long way toward sending the right signals. Finding new areas of military cooperation with the Baltic states will demonstrate that the U.S.–Baltic security relationship is an enduring one. Friend and foe alike in the region will be watching the next few years closely.

The Baltic states show a degree of enthusiasm for NATO and transatlantic relations currently not found on either side of the Atlantic. The U.S. should grasp this opportunity to develop and deepen its relationship with the Baltic states. Doing so is in the interests of the U.S., NATO, and the Baltics.

—Luke Coffey is Margaret Thatcher Fellow in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

The author is grateful to Daniel Kochis for his assistance in preparing this study.


October 29, 2013

Daily Telegraph, London, on October 29, 2013, reported the Japanese defence minister saying “intrusions by China in the territorial waters around the Senkaku islands fall in the ‘grey zone’ between peacetime and an emergency situation.” Excerpts below:

Beijing’s behaviour in its row with Tokyo over disputed islands is jeopardising peace, Japan’s defence minister said, days after China warned a reported plan to shoot down its drones would constitute “an act of war”.

Itsunori Onodera’s comments are likely to further heighten fears that the two countries could be sliding towards conflict over the outcrops in the East China Sea.

“I believe the intrusions by China in the territorial waters around the Senkaku islands fall in the ‘grey zone’ (between) peacetime and an emergency situation,” Onodera told reporters in Tokyo.

The two sides have been at loggerheads over the island chain, claimed by China as the Diaoyus, since Tokyo bought three of them from their private Japanese owner in September 2012.

But the comments from Onodera following those from China’s defence ministry at the weekend, appear to have taken the verbal fisticuffs to a new level.

On October 29, China’s coastguard sent four vessels into the waters around the islands, where they stayed for two hours, shadowed by their Japanese counterparts.

That came after three consecutive days in which Tokyo scrambled its jets to meet Chinese aircraft flying near to Japanese airspace as they traversed a strait that leads into the Pacific.

“They were two early-warning aircraft and two bombers,” Onodera told reporters.

“It was unusual that so many aircraft flew between the Okinawan main island and Miyako island. We consider that it is also very unusual that it occurred for three days in a row.

“We understand that it is one of the trends showing that China is now vigorously expanding its areas of activities, including into the open ocean.”

Last week it was reported that popular Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had given the green light to plans to fire on any unmanned aircraft that did not heed warnings to leave Japanese airspace.

That came after officials said an unidentified drone was logged on a trajectory towards southern Japan. Tracking stations noted that the craft appeared to have come from, and returned to, Chinese airspace.

Privately, policymakers said there was no doubt about its origins and pointed out that China is known to be developing its drone fleet.

Observers warn that the frequent presence of armed vessels and aircraft in the area raises the risk of a confrontation, and point out that a minor slip by a crew member on either side could quickly escalate.

Tokyo announced last week that it was planning a huge drill on an island hundreds of kilometres (miles) away, intended to sharpen the skills of 34,000 troops in defending – and retaking – distant territory.

It has also upped its global PR campaign with the posting on YouTube of videos putting its case for sovereignty of the Senkakus and a separate pair of islands at the centre of a dispute with South Korea.

The recent manoeuvres were the latest in a long line of actions and reactions in the bitter scrap with China, which is putatively about the uninhabited islands but is fuelled by historical animosities and nationalism.

Japan says it annexed unclaimed islands in 1895 and maintains China’s claims of ownership date only from the discovery of fossil fuel reserves in the nearby seabed at the end of the 1960s.


October 28, 2013

Interfax Ukraine on October 26, 2013, reported that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said that for the sake of Ukraine’s European integration she will accept all offers from the European Parliament’s monitoring mission led by former European Parliament President Pat Cox and former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski “no matter how difficult they could be.”

“I state that for the sake of signing the Association Agreement I, without any discussion, have always gratefully accepted all offers regarding my release from the mission of presidents Cox and Kwasniewski agreed by EU leaders. And, for the sake of the European future of my country, I will continue to accept all of their proposals no matter how difficult they could be for me,” reads an open letter by Tymoshenko, which was read out by Batkivschyna MP Serhiy Sobolev on the Shuster Live program.

Tymoshenko also promised that if the mission refuses to consider the procedure for her pardon and decides that the problem should be resolved through the adoption of a law, the Batkivschyna faction will support the bill, which will be agreed with Cox and Kwasniewski.

“If the mission of presidents Cox and Kwasniewski decides to refuse the procedure for my pardon and decides that it’s necessary to switch to the adoption of a law in the Verkhovna Rada regarding my release, our team will vote only for the version of the bill, which will be fully agreed with the mission of EU leaders,” reads the open letter.


October 27, 2013

Defense News on October 25, 2013, reported that Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the two largest defense companies in the world, are teaming up on the US next-generation bomber. Excerpts below:

The companies announced a teaming effort for the Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber program. Boeing will be the prime contractor, while Lockheed will act as primary teammate.

“Boeing and Lockheed Martin are bringing together the best of the two enterprises, and the rest of industry, in support of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program, and we are honored to support our US Air Force customer and this important national priority,” Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said in a joint statement.

Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said, “We’re confident that our team will meet the well-defined system requirements and deliver a world-class next-generation Long Range Strike Bomber to the US Air Force within the budget and timeframe required.”

Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, has consistently said his top three priorities are the KC-46 tanker replacement, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the bomber program. Boeing produces the KC-46, while Lockheed is the prime on the F-35. A bomber win would give the two companies dominance over the next three decades of Air Force systems.

This is the second time the two companies have come together on the next-generation bomber.

The team would combine Boeing’s bomber experience, including maintenance and upkeep, with Lockheed’s stealth experience. Even so, Northrop may still be in the lead position, given its experience with the stealthy B-2 Spirit and an early, aggressive campaign that included a three-story tall poster at this year’s Air Force Association conference in National Harbor, Md.

Air Force officials have indicated that the bomber program will be built primarily off of existing technologies, although what that might mean is unclear. Only general details of the heavily classified program have emerged. It will likely be optionally manned and will certainly have stealth capabilities, potentially drawn from the F-22 Raptor and F-35.

The bombers are expected to enter service in the mid-2020s and cost about $550 million each, with a potential buy of up to 100. The program has been largely unaffected by sequestration because the funding streams are relatively small in the coming years, according to Air Force officials.


October 26, 2013

Copenhagen Post (Denmark) on October 25, 2013, reported that the Eastern High Court has ruled that it was appropriate that a historian called former newspaper Information journalist George Dragsdahl an agent of the KGB. Excerpts below:

Historian Bent Jensen was found innocent of libel in the unique case, the first in Denmark in which a historian has been prosecuted on the basis of a story written using previously classified material.

The ruling overturns a judgement handed down in 2010 by the district court in Svendborg, where Jensen was convicted of libelling Dragsdahl and ordered to pay him 200,000 kroner in damages.

The district court ruling focused on the fact that domestic intelligence agency PET had not found sufficient grounds to prosecute Dragsdahl in the 1980s when he was under suspicion of being a spy. The high court was not swayed by that argument however, and decided unanimously to dismiss the charges against Jensen and ordered Dragsdahl to pay 600,000 kroner in legal costs.

The court case began back in January 2007 when Jensen wrote an article in Jyllands-Posten newspaper in which he accused Dragsdahl of being a KGB agent during the Cold War.
The accusations were based on a series of declassified PET documents and case files on individuals that PET suspected of being KGB agents in Denmark.

Dragsdahl, who worked as a foreign correspondent for Information, was under PET surveillance for three years beginning in 1984.

The information gathered during this period is what led Jensen to finger Dragsdahl as a KGB agent.

During the proceedings it emerged that several former PET leaders were convinced that Dragsdahl was an ‘influence agent ‘ controlled by the Soviet Union, whose role was to influence Denmark’s position on major Soviet issues.

The case mirrors another recent outing of a former journalist by a historian. Cold War historian Thomas Wegener Friis caused a stir last year when he claimed to have uncovered the identity of a Danish man that he said was involved in “serious cases” of subversive activities and espionage against Denmark. Per Michaelsen, a former journalist for Ekstra Bladet, was named as the person who collaborated with the Stasi during the Cold War period.
Politiken newspaper reported that in 2009 both Friis and a senior German investigator looking into Stasi activities had marvelled that Michaelsen was able to publish the names and aliases of Danish agents and officers working in the Stasi two years before that information was available in the Stasi’s own massive pile of paperwork.

The 70-year-old Michaelsen vehemently denied he was a spy.

(Comment: The court decision on October 25 opens the way for publication of Professor Jensen’s two volume work on the Cold War in Denmark. It will contain information on KGB’s role in the Danish “footnotes” in NATO during the Cold War. The social democratic governments at the time were opposed to NATO’s anti-Soviet policies.)


October 25, 2013

The Heritage Foundation in a Backgrounder on September 12, 2013, published recommendations by Dean Cheng and Ariel Cohen on how to manage U.S.-Russia-China relations. Since the end of the Cold War, Sino–Russian relations have expanded and deepened, resulting in arms deals and increasing economic ties. Russia has the potential to become a major energy supplier to the growing Chinese economy, which is demanding ever-increasing amounts of energy. While both countries desire to constrain U.S. power and Western influence, they still view each other as regional competitors in Central Asia. If a close Sino–Russian strategic relationship develops, it could limit the capacity of the U.S. to act abroad and undermine economic freedom, democracy, and human rights in Greater Eurasia. Excerpts below:

As the Obama Administration focuses on the Middle East and Europe and the U.S. cuts its defense budget, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are striving to deepen their relationship. The leaders of the two major Eurasian powers have conducted a series of high-priority, high-level official reciprocal diplomatic visits. In the aftermath of the planned NATO forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a forum to discuss regional security and economic issues, is assuming a higher profile. Their military and economic relationship is expanding, and their rhetoric is often directed at countering American power.

The Sino–Russian rapprochement coincides with the U.S. unipolar moment following the end of the Cold War, and has continued into the 21st century. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow and Beijing believe that American power represents a geopolitical challenge to them both. The prospect of formal or informal alliance that brings together the economic and political power of China and Russia would be a major problem for American interests, just as its Sino–Soviet predecessor was in the 1950s during the Cold War. For this reason, such an alliance has long worried American policymakers and analysts. Indeed, a long-standing concern throughout the Cold War was the prospect that the United States would need to confront China and the Soviet Union simultaneously.

However, while Chinese–Russian cooperation is continuing and even expanding, the two nations are linked more by shared aversions than by shared interests. While Moscow and Beijing agree on the need to counter American power and have complementary economies, they are also geopolitical competitors.

The U.S. should maintain an engaged American diplomatic, political, and economic presence in Asia and strong bilateral relations with Russia and China, using these to exploit their differences and ensure that they remain competitors. In particular, the U.S. should develop bilateral security cooperation programs with Central Asian countries aimed at strengthening the security environment after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 and preventing al-Qaeda and the Taliban from taking over Kabul and projecting power into Central Asia.

An…essential part of the expanding Sino–Russian relationship has been security, which also has economic elements. Russian arms sales to China were a major component of the early period of rapprochement. In the wake of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the Western embargo on military sales to the PRC, China relied on Russian military technology to modernize its forces. Consequently, since the end of the Cold War, China has become one of the largest importers of Russian weapons. Between 1991 and 2010, Russia supplied more than 90 percent of China’s weapons imports, with China accounting for nearly 40 percent of Russian arms exports.

China also took advantage of the Soviet collapse to acquire certain items of space technology. In 1995, Chinese space experts arranged to purchase a complete life support system for a manned spacecraft, a stripped-down Soyuz capsule, and a Sokol spacesuit, which Russian cosmonauts wear during the ascent and descent phases, but not for spacewalks. They also apparently purchased a docking module so that Chinese spacecraft could, in theory, dock with Russian (and therefore American) spacecraft. Later, two Chinese specialists received training at Cosmograd.

Sino–Russian security cooperation has extended beyond equipment purchases to include some degree of security policy coordination. Under the aegis of the SCO, the PRC and Russia have engaged in a number of joint military exercises dubbed “Peace Mission.” The 2005 Peace Mission exercise was the largest joint exercise for the PRC up to that time, involving some 7,000 Chinese and nearly 2,000 Russian troops, as well as helicopters, long-range bombers and fighters, and a variety of naval forces.] Four subsequent, smaller Peace Mission exercises have involved not only Russian and Chinese troops, but also units from the other SCO members.

In 2012, Russia and China held their first purely bilateral military exercises, involving naval combatants and naval aviation from both nations.

For example, the economic relationship between the two states, while far more robust than during the Cold War, reflects the asymmetric roles that each plays in the other’s economy.

In some ways, China’s economic links with Russia resemble its ties with Southeast Asia. The Chinese economy simply outmatches the Russian economy at an estimated four times the size of the Russian economy.

The dilapidation or lack of Russian infrastructure has also limited the scale of economic interaction. China would likely expand purchases of various Russian natural resources if it could access them more easily. In January 2012, the China State Grid Corporation, China’s largest power generation company, linked part of its network to Russia’s as part of a longer term effort to import some 100 billion kilowatt-hours over the next 25 years. Energy, not military affairs, is the principal area of cooperation between Russia and China. According to the International Energy Agency, China’s natural gas consumption is projected to grow by 700 percent between 2008 and 2035, and its oil consumption is expected to increase by 8 million barrels per day (mbd) to 17.5 mbd by 2030.

Limits on Political Cooperation. The Russian decision to impose some limitations on what it will sell to China, but not necessarily what it will sell to India, reflects a larger ambivalence in the Russian view of the PRC. For example, growing trade and economic ties between the two countries have aroused concerns about China’s political influence on the Russian Far East.

The SCO typifies this ambivalence. Below the lofty rhetoric, the two sides see the SCO as much as an arena for competition as a forum for cooperation. Russia enjoys historical ties (and attendant insights into key leaders and factions) to the Central Asian republics and has pushed the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as a means of maintaining influence over the region. Meanwhile, the PRC has exhibited uncharacteristic flexibility in resolving border issues with the Central Asian states. In border negotiations with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikstan, China made significant concessions in exchange for support against separatism and extremism of Turkic groups in China, especially in Xinjiang.

Expanding economic relations have supported these initial openings. China offers an obvious market for Central Asian hydrocarbon resources without the need for Russian infrastructure and attendant charges for access to pipelines and the like. At the same time, Chinese investment in Central Asia is growing. For example, in December 2012, the Chinese government established a $10 billion fund to support road, rail, and energy projects in the Central Asian republics. Along these lines, China has offered to help to build a paraxylene complex in Kazakhstan to meet global demand for this key hydrocarbon, an essential feedstock in the production of various plastics.

Russia has sought to counter China’s economic advantages by employing its long-standing ties with (and intelligence penetration of) the various Central Asian republics. Coupled with an effort to preserve Russian military access to the region, including through the CSTO, Moscow hopes to keep the region aligned more with itself than with Beijing. The CSTO does not include China or the United States, a reminder that these efforts also insulate the region from U.S. influence.

Growing Tensions?

The ongoing efforts to cooperate have tended to limit tensions between China and Russia. Their relationship has also benefited from the settlement of border disputes, which removed a major potential irritant. However, the two countries still have disputes, as demonstrated in 2012 when Russian coast guard vessels fired on a Chinese fishing boat, killing one Chinese sailor[45] This led to Chinese protests and demands for an apology and highlighted the reality that boundary disputes, while ameliorated, remain a source of tension.

Along these lines, Russian planners still hedge against growing Chinese military power. The massive Vostok 2010 military drills, conducted in the Russian Far East maritime province bordering China, simulated an operation to repel an unnamed aggressor with tactical nuclear weapons.

In July 2013, Moscow launched its largest military maneuvers since the collapse of the Soviet Union, involving 160,000 troops, along with 130 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and some 70 ships. These exercises involved radiation and chemical warfare decontamination, naval rocket and artillery fire, and naval rescue operations. The fact that the maneuvers were conducted under the direct supervision of President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Shoygu reflects their great importance, and was clearly a signal to multiple international audiences, including the PRC.[47] Strategic planners in Moscow recognize that Russia needs to keep its powder dry against their great Asian neighbor.

Indeed, Russian officials are sufficiently concerned with the deteriorating military balance of power to question openly the long-term trajectory of Sino–Russian relations, especially in the security sphere. Some Russian scholars have publicly ascribed their nation’s shift to a nuclear first-use policy to the need to compensate for Russia’s conventional weakness “in the East and the West.”

Ultimately, Russian decision makers fear a replay of the early 1970s and creation of a Sino–American link to constrain or limit Russia. Today’s Russia is a far cry from the Soviet Union. Such an alignment between Beijing and Washington would not only limit Russian influence, but could seriously constrain Moscow from exercising its sovereign rights.

There is some concern in various American quarters that China and Russia could coalesce into an anti-American alliance. General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, observed in 2011 that these two nations by virtue of their capabilities pose a “mortal threat” to the United States.

The integration of the Chinese economy and burgeoning population with the massive natural resources in Russia would pose a formidable threat to the United States. This line of concern is especially pressing given Chinese economic growth trajectories.

However, the relationship between Moscow and Beijing seems characterized more by common antipathies than shared sympathies. Both China and Russia are concerned about the potential U.S. military and political presence in Central Asia, so each acts to limit that presence, individually and cooperatively. At the same time, each appears concerned about losing influence in that same region to each other. Moscow and Beijing are going through another iteration of the “Great Game” of central Asian influence, even as they cooperate to minimize the American role.


Since the days of Nixon’s opening to China, it has been in America’s interest to shape relations between the largest country and the most populated country on the planet to prevent their alignment against the U.S. This analysis indicates the fault lines in China–Russia relations that the U.S. could exploit.

To this end, the Obama Administration should:

 Recognize the limits of shared interests with both Russia and China as well as between them.Washington should not assume that these two states automatically agree with each other and should therefore seek to deal with them separately. Only in a handful of instances will all three share common interests, such as in limiting the depredations of seaborne pirates. Most of the time, it is essential to recognize that Russia and China are at best aligned, but not allied. Consequently, cooperation with either country should be on a case-by-case basis, recognizing the limits of their shared interests. In particular, there is little reason to believe that Russian and Chinese armed forces are engaging in joint military planning. Episodic high-profile joint exercises are not the same as the kind of joint planning that typifies U.S.–NATO, U.S.–Japan, or U.S.–ROK military cooperation—although the U.S. should keep an eye on their interactions in case such closeness eventually evolves.

 Pursue a policy of engagement with both Beijing and Moscow. Efforts to isolate either country could actually push them closer together. However, Washington should not compromise its security and economic ties with its own allies to pursue relations with Beijing or Moscow. To this end, the United States should seek to exploit the Russian concerns that China is a long-term threat in the Far East and Central Asia. The U.S. can best achieve this by ensuring that the United States is publicly known to be consulting equally with Beijing and Moscow on issues that likely affect all of them, such as Afghanistan and Central Asian security after the 2014 U.S. withdrawal. This approach may allow divergent interests and differing viewpoints to be highlighted.

 Promote the rule of law and encourage transparency and good governance in all of Central Asia as well as in Russia and China. Promoting the rule of law is best achieved by promoting civil society and working with state and civil society counterparts in all of these countries. By utilizing soft power policy tools, including social media, public diplomacy, and international broadcasting, the United States can communicate key messages to the various audiences, both about the state of politics in their respective nations as well as alternative perspectives on the relative interests of the key players. Whether it is the Magnitsky list or the case of Chen Guangcheng, the United States should not shirk from supporting human rights and the rule of law, which will ultimately have both political and economic effects.

 Develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation programs with Central Asian countries. U.S. cooperation with Central Asian countries should include security-related efforts, such as programs that support the government of Afghanistan after the NATO withdrawal and efforts to prevent al-Qaeda and the Taliban from projecting power into Central Asia. The U.S. should assist the armed forces and security services of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to develop institutional capabilities. In addition, the United States in conjunction with Japan, Korea, and India can also offer assistance in developing infrastructure, education, health care, and free and open media in the Russian Far East as well as in the Central Asian republics. Facilitating the effort to convert the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) into a regional trade network could help many of the Central Asian states to develop their economies and reduce their dependence on Moscow and Beijing. Similarly, helping to resolve tensions among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan would reduce the opportunities for outside meddling by the larger neighbors. Offering these countries additional choices would allow them to thread an autonomous path between China and Russia and perhaps even align with the United States.


A close Sino–Russian strategic relationship could erode the unencumbered capacity of the U.S. to act abroad and could also undermine economic freedom, democracy, and human rights in Greater Eurasia. China and Russia are employing a mix of hard and soft power tools aimed at frustrating the United States in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. China has come a long way from the feebleness of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Russia has partially recovered after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both great powers will continue to focus their attention on area-denial/anti-access strategies. The Obama Administration’s “pivot to Asia” suggests that Washington’s rhetoric is taking China’s rise seriously. Now is the time for a U.S. response to growing Sino–Russian ties that can protect American interests and allies.

—Dean Cheng is Senior Research Fellow in Chinese Political and Security Affairs in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, and Ariel Cohen, PhD, is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.


October 24, 2013

Washington Free Beacon on October 22, 2013, published comments on a report that shows how Chinese military uses semi-secret front groups, influence operations aimed at ‘disintegrating enemies’. Excerpts below:

China’s military is using covert political warfare operations to influence U.S. policies and opinions toward Beijing while working to defeat perceived enemies like the United States and Taiwan, according to a report on the sub-rosa activities.

The activities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Political Department (GPD) include funding pro-China activities abroad, recruiting intelligence sources, spreading propaganda, engaging in media activities, funding front groups that promote Chinese strategy and goals and supporting perceived “friends” of China.

The report is the first public study of Chinese military political warfare and was produced by the Project 2049 Institute, an Arlington, Va. think tank focused on bringing democracy to China and other Asian countries by 2049.

The report identifies one of the PLA political operations as the Sanya Initiative. That initiative brought together retired senior Chinese and U.S. military officers, including former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Adm. Bill Owens, that have lobbied the Pentagon and Congress using the propaganda theme that China poses no threat to the United States.

The Free Beacon first disclosed last year that a draft report by the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission had identified the Sanya Initiative as linked to the China Association for International Friendly Contact, described in the draft as “a front organization for the International Liaison Department of the PLA General Political Department.”

China’s military also calls its political warfare operations “liaison work.”

“The PLA General Political Department—managed exchanges with foreign senior retired military officers, such as the Sanya Initiative, are only one part of a much broader campaign to manipulate perceptions and policies of foreign governments, particularly regarding Taiwan,” said Mark Stokes, Project 2049 director and co-author of the report.

Stokes said that “for decades, the GPD has effectively conditioned foreign audiences to accept Beijing’s narrow interpretation of One China,” which asserts Taiwan is part of Beijing-ruled China.

“The objective reality is that Taiwan, under its current Republic of China constitution, exists as an independent, sovereign state,” he said…

The report urges U.S. policymakers to develop countermeasures to Chinese political warfare.

“U.S. policy makers may find value in a reinvigorated capacity to counter those who promote visions for an international order that are contrary to American interests and ideals,” the report said.

“Citing the stagnation of U.S. political warfare skills since the end of the Cold War, prominent opinion leaders have indeed advocated in favor of enhancing our ability to win hearts and minds in the Middle East context. China’s experience in political warfare may be instructive as well.”

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the FBI had as one of its missions the countering of such political influence operations. However, as successive administrations adopted pro-China trade-dominated policies toward Beijing, U.S. counterintelligence against China diminished significantly.

Frequent cases of prosecutions of Chinese nationals or sympathizers for illegal exports to China are uncovered regularly. However, the FBI has not arrested or uncovered a single Chinese spy during the Obama administration.

The report states that while all governments seek to shape international opinion, China’s political warfare operations go far beyond traditional public diplomacy.

“Chinese political warfare seeks to shore up legitimacy domestically, reframe international rules of the road, and promote alternatives to widely accepted universal values,” the report said.

Unlike public diplomacy, Chinese political warfare involves both intelligence and influence operations under the strategy of “aligning with friends and disintegrating enemies,” according to the report.

Operations to disintegrate enemies differentiate Chinese political warfare from other propaganda and publicity programs, the report said.

“Leveraging propaganda and other means, disintegration work seeks to undermine an opponent’s national will through targeting of ideology, psychology, and morale,” the report said.

Among the targets are “international elites” who are used to undermine the integrity of groups and people Beijing views as anti-China.

“At the strategic level, a core PLA political warfare mission is countering perceived political challenges that liberal democratic systems, universal values, and Western culture pose to the [Chinese Communist Party’s] legitimacy within China itself and the broader international community.”

China’s communist rulers are engaged in a war of ideas against liberal democracies.

“The United States in particular is singled out as an ideological adversary,” the report said.

Chinese political warriors operate internationally to market the “China model” of authoritarian, anti-democratic rule as an alternative to Western democracy.

In addition to targeting the United States in its political warfare activities, Taiwan is a major target of PLA political warfare.

The goal of the campaign is to undermine the legitimacy of democratic Taiwan whose system poses “an existential challenge” to communist rule, the report said.

The main function of the PLA unit is to serve as a clearinghouse for coordinating party organs, state bureaucracies, military communities, commercial enterprises, and informal networks of prominent elites.

Several Chinese non-government organizations play important roles in PLA political warfare, according to the report.

One stridently anti-American group identified in the report is the Dongfang Yi Cultural Expansion Association that advances China’s notion of “three warfares”: psychological warfare; overt and covert media manipulation; and use of law in political warfare.

Other PLA political warfare front groups identified in the report include the China Energy Fund Committee and Nishan Forum on World Civilizations. The groups seek to seek to play down China’s Soviet and Marxist-Leninist roots, structure and strategies around the world.

The PLA political department also works with prominent opinion leaders to promote China’s political-military interests.

Another element of the political warfare is China’s establishment of Confucius Institutes, the report said.

Several institutes have been established around the world, including in the United States and U.S. officials have said the institutes have ties to Chinese intelligence and military agencies.

Chinese political warfare also shares roots with the Soviet Union’s use of so-called “active measures” during the Cold War. Those KGB-run operations included spreading lies to undermine the United States, like an operation claiming AIDS was a U.S. biological warfare program.

Soviet active measures also used forged documents to undermine U.S. political figures.

“By contrast, no single [Chinese] authority, with the exception of the Politburo Standing Committee, appears to enjoy an exclusive monopoly over political warfare,” the report said.


October 23, 2013

The Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2013, published a paper by Ariel Cohen on why US should support closer ties of Ukraine to the European Union. Russia is pressuring Ukraine to join Belarus and Kazakhstan in a Eurasian Customs Union led by Moscow. Acquiescing to Russia’s wishes would anchor Ukraine in a Moscow-dominated economic zone and impose higher tariffs on Ukrainian trade with the European Union. Russia also wants Ukraine to join the Joint Economic Space, the Eurasian Union, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. This integration would recreate the geography of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire, strengthening and emboldening Moscow as a global geopolitical actor. It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent Ukraine from becoming a Russian satellite and a key member of a Moscow-dominated sphere of influence. The U.S. needs to assist Ukraine and its European partners in derailing Russia’s pressure tactics for bringing Ukraine into Moscow’s orbit. Excerpts below:

On August 17, 2013, the Kyiv-based website Ukraine Today published a document summarizing the Kremlin’s strategy on how to force Ukraine to join Russia’s sphere of influence.The Russian strategy, which the Kremlin has not disavowed, is designed to pressure Ukraine into joining a Moscow-led Customs Union (which currently includes Belarus and Kazakhstan). The strategy was authored by experts working for Sergey Glazyev, President Vladimir Putin’s adviser on regional economic integration, and a prominent Russian nationalist and leftist who supports reintegration of the former Soviet republics under Moscow’s aegis.

The strategic goal of the document is to prevent Ukraine from signing an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the European Union [in November 2013], prompting it to instead join Russia’s Customs Union by 2015. This step would anchor Ukraine in a Russia-dominated economic zone and impose higher tariffs on Ukrainian trade with the EU. The strategy includes measures to ban Ukrainian products from Russian markets if Kyiv insists on European integration and disobeys Moscow’s diktat.

… it is important for American policymakers to understand and counter Russia’s neo-imperial designs on Ukraine. Specifically, the U.S. should announce public and diplomatic support of associate EU membership for Ukraine and the DCFTA in Washington, Europe, and in Kyiv; send high-level officials to visit Ukraine; provide technical assistance, if requested, to boost the country’s lackluster economic performance; and encourage Europe to lower its trade tariffs with Kyiv.

The Kremlin expected the current Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, to facilitate Ukraine’s reintegration in the Russian political and economic sphere, as he was Moscow’s preferred candidate in 2004 and 2010. Yanukovich hails from the Russian-speaking Eastern region of Donetsk, and many of his voters from the country’s east and south would be happy with a closer relationship with Russia.

When Yanukovich took office in 2010, he was widely viewed as a pro-Moscow figure. Since then, he has indeed taken some pro-Russian steps: He signed a long-term agreement to keep the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol; in August 2012, he signed a law raising the status of Russian to an official regional language in 13 of 27 Ukrainian regions (oblasts), leading to protests by native speakers of Ukrainian in the western and central parts of the country. Nevertheless, Yanukovich has continued to follow a generally pro-European foreign policy and has given up neither Ukraine’s political independence nor his own.

Moscow’s strategic objectives concerning Ukraine have barely changed over the past 400 years. By working to pull Ukraine into its fold, Moscow is seeking to expand its coastal line on the Black Sea; get its power closer to the Balkans; integrate 44 million Eastern Orthodox, Russian-speaking Slavs into its own dwindling Russian Slavic population; gain control over Ukraine’s military–industrial base (including aerospace); attain access to the richest agricultural potential in Europe; and lock up Ukraine’s offshore and shale oil and gas reserves.

As stated in the Kremlin strategy, Russia’s objectives include:

• Preventing Ukraine from signing the Association Agreement with the EU;

• Forming an influential network of pro-Russian forces capable of ensuring Ukraine’s ascendance to the Customs Union—and eventually to the Eurasian Union—by 2015; and limiting the scope of perceived anti-Russian actions of the current Ukrainian leadership;

• Neutralizing and weakening the media and political influence of Ukrainian and Western proponents of European integration; and

• Creating conditions for Ukraine to join the Russian-dominated political space in Eurasia.

It is in the U.S. interest that Ukraine sign an Association Agreement and a DCFTA with the EU. Therefore, the Administration should:

• Encourage the Ukrainian leadership to sign the Association Agreement and DCFTA with the European Union at the Vilnius summit in November. The White House should reaffirm the guarantees of Ukrainian sovereignty and independence pledged by the U.S. in 1994, which include protection from economic pressure. The U.S. should also promote the release of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko from prison—a step that would further encourage the Europeans to sign the Association Agreement.

• Expand U.S. and international technical assistance to Ukraine, if requested, for steps Kyiv may take to defend its trade from discriminatory Russian trade practices, such as preparation of WTO claims. Offer advice to: facilitate Ukraine’s economic reforms, combat corruption, increase transparency of government decision making, make the civil service smaller and more efficient, privatize government services where possible, improve law enforcement practices, enhance the work of the courts, assist with training of judges and prosecutors, deepen legal reform, and improve banking practices. The U.S. may lower tariffs on imports from Ukraine to compensate partially for imposition of Russian tariffs on Ukrainian goods.

• Boost public and diplomatic support of Ukraine’s Association Agreement and DCFTA with European capitals, signaling high-level U.S. attention to this matter, and dispatch senior American officials to Kyiv to articulate support through talks with the Ukrainian leadership and public appearances. The Obama Administration should denounce Moscow’s illegal economic pressure on Ukraine to force it to join the Customs Union and provide technical advice on measures Kyiv can take to oppose such pressure in the WTO and other international frameworks.

The United States has supported the Ukrainian dream of independence and transition to democracy and markets since the collapse of the Soviet Union. American geopolitical interests and ties to Eastern Europe require high-profile and unambiguous support of Ukraine’s Association Agreement and DCFTA with the European Union. The U.S. needs to join Ukraine and its European partners in derailing economic blackmail and soft-power pressures inherent in the Glazyev–Medvedchuk plan to bring Ukraine into Moscow’s orbit.

—Ariel Cohen, PhD, is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. The author wishes to thank Ivan Benovic, a 2013 graduate of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a native of Slovakia, for invaluable contribution to this paper.


October 22, 2013

Defense News on October 21, 2013, published an AFP report on North Korea warning of “merciless firing” against the South if it goes ahead with a reported plan to develop shells to carry anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. Excerpts below:

The South’s Joong-Ang Ilbo newspaper reported last week that South Korean troops were developing non-explosive hollow shells capable of carrying such leaflets deep into North Korean territory. There has been no official confirmation.

South Korean activists including defectors from the North already regularly launch anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border by balloon, despite the North’s Korean threats to shell the “human scum” involved.

“We will deal a telling blow at the (South Korean) army to make it pay a very high price for its foolish provocation as it is keen on staging ‘psychological warfare against the North’ in alignment with human scum,” North Korea said.

Tensions between the two Koreas had appeared to cool down after soaring in February, when the North carried out its third underground nuclear test in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

But relations have soured again in recent weeks, with the North stepping up its bellicose rhetoric after Seoul and Washington agreed a joint strategy to address what they call the mounting threat of a North Korean nuclear attack.