Once again, NATO is conducting a rather dangerous maneuvers in Eastern Europe with the aim of provoking Russia. Latvia is the new military drill arena for the Western Alliance, with the country receiving troops from across the Atlantic for a military event called the Winter Shield. This event is annual and provides the opportunity for forces from Latvia and the rest of NATO to act together, training war tactics for possible combat scenarios. However, as has become tradition in NATO, each year the exercises become more aggressive, bringing together a large number of agents, equipment and resources for the sole purpose of showing strength against Russia.
The Latvian armed forces issued a statement earlier this week in which it is possible to read: “From 21 November to 4 December, Latvia will host international military exercise ‘Winter Shield’ to test and upgrade the combat capabilities of Latvian and allied Armed forces units along with their integration and interoperability within Baltic region’s collective defense system”. Since Sunday, the forces of Latvia and other nations of the Alliance have been conducting maneuvers in the country, with a huge presence of agents and equipment from different countries.
Despite the presence of troops from the most diverse armies, the units that most allocated people to conduct drills were the Land Force Mechanized Infantry Brigade, National Guard, Special Operations Command, NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group, Baltic Battalion, and the US Special Operations Command Europe. As was to be expected, the Baltic countries sent in the greatest number of troops. It is also notorious the presence of foreign agents in the other Baltic nations during the exercises, with no restriction to the Latvian territory.
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Once again, Kiev is leading a new escalation of violence in the Russian border. In the past few days, the autonomous republics of Donbass have been suffering from violations of the ceasefire agreement by Ukrainian forces, which has raised tensions and worried experts about the possibility of a return to the status of the war before the Minsk conferences. To make matters worse, Washington is acting provocatively, asserting full support for Kiev and solidarity with the aggressors in the conflict.
Joe Biden and the Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelensky, held last Friday, April 2, their first telephone conversation since the American leader took office. On the occasion, the leaders discussed several topics, including the tensions on the border with Russia. Biden and Zelensky agreed that what is happening in eastern Ukraine is a "Russian aggression" and that it must be contained by the mutual efforts of their two countries. In a statement after the conversation, a White House spokesperson said: “President Biden affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression in the Donbass and Crimea."
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A new controversy arises involving the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians in territories occupied by Israel. So far, Israel is the country that most vaccinated its population against the new coronavirus. Tel Aviv makes strong political propaganda with the success of its national vaccination program, which, in less than a month, immunized more than 25% of Israeli citizens. The partial victory over the virus has been a real political weapon for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is trying to regain his popularity by fighting the pandemic. However, the Jewish state is receiving strong criticism worldwide due to the exclusionary nature of its vaccination campaign, which excludes Palestinians, confirming in practice the existence of an institutional, ethnic discrimination in Israel.
Amnesty International recently launched a global campaign against Israeli discrimination, demanding that Tel Aviv to stop ignoring international vaccination recommendations and abandon discrimination in its national immunization program. In a recent statement, Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, stated: "Israel’s Covid-19 vaccine program highlights the institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians (…) While Israel celebrates a record-setting vaccination drive, millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will receive no vaccine or have to wait much longer – there could hardly be a better illustration of how Israeli lives are valued above Palestinian ones."
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After his self-proclaimed victory as the new president-elect of the US, Joe Biden was congratulated by some heads of state and government. In this regard, on Wednesday (November 11), the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, telephoned Biden with the intention of congratulating him on his victory and during the conversation they discussed several matters of strategic importance for both nations.
The American Democrat has strongly stated his commitment that the US will support Japan’s claims on the disputed Senkaku Islands. Biden and Suga also agreed to coordinate joint efforts related to several global challenges, such as combating the new coronavirus pandemic and global warming, as well as other environmental issues. However, the most important point is the issue of the islands due to the delicacy of the topic, which involves an old dispute between Japanese and Chinese.
Biden touched on an extremely sensitive point in international relations when talking about the Senkaku Islands. Both Japan and China have expanded territorial claims on the Senkaku islands – named by the Chinese as Diaoyu islands – over the past few decades. Japan insists on its sovereignty over the islands, in force since 1895, while China defends Japanese maps from 1783 and 1785 that designate the islands as a Chinese territory. Japan claims that the incorporation of the islands into its territory at the end of the 19th century was carried out peacefully, as there were supposedly no traces of any occupation over the region and the annexation was carried out in accordance with the legal requirements of that time. After the Second World War, the islands remained under American control, having been returned to Japan in 1972. In the same decade, China intensified territorial claims using historical sources that point to the Chinese presence in the region during the Japanese annexation.
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For years, the US, Japan and India have maintained Malabar military exercises on an annual basis. As the US and Japan are absolutely aligned countries and India is a Washington regional strategic partner, the common objective of the three participants is to face the Chinese advance and to strengthen a coalition against Beijing and its presence in the Indian Ocean. Now, with the increasing of tensions between China and the United States for naval supremacy and between China and India for territorial reasons, Malabar exercises take on a new dimension, being the moment of greatest risk of war in the region in recent years.
Since 2017, Australia has asked to join Malabar naval exercises. The US and Japan have already voted in favor of the Australian participation, but India has not allowed it – the US, Japan and India are the permanent members of the tests and the adherence of a new country depends on a unanimous vote. There was a logistical disagreement between India and Australia, which prevented them from reaching a consensus on the execution of the exercises. In June, both countries signed a mutual logistical support agreement, thus removing the obstacle to Australian participation. Now, as the impasse with China increases, India can change its vote and finally approve Australian participation. The result would be an even stronger coalition scenario against China, which would certainly respond accordingly.
Beijing will not allow its oceanic region to be the target of powerful military exercises by enemy powers without offering high-level war tests in return. China has recently reached an advanced stage of naval military power, practically equaling American power by crossing the International Date Line. In addition, China has significantly increased its military campaign in the South China Sea and has built a large fleet for the Arctic. It is this adversary that the Malabar coalition is facing when promoting a siege in the Indian Ocean. So, what will happen if China invests even more in naval power, modernizing its Navy and devoting itself to a military strategy focused on maritime defense?
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