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Ralph Nader: Everyone Loses in the Conflict Over Ukraine.

Ralph Nader, February 28, 2022  https://scheerpost.com/2022/02/28/ralph-nader-everyone-loses-in-the-conflict-over-ukraine/ The U.S. and Russia are toying with a dangerous recipe for an out-of-control escalation, much like the lead-up to World War I.

When two scorpions are in a bottle, they both lose. This is the preventable danger that is growing daily, with no end game in sight between the two nuclear superpowers, led by dictator Vladimir Putin and de facto sole decider, Joe Biden.

Putin’s first argument is, Washington invented the model of aggressive, illegal invasions, and destruction of distant countries that never threatened U.S. security. Millions have died, been injured, and sickened in defenseless countries attacked by U.S. armed forces. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney killed over a million innocent Iraqis and devastated the country in so many ways that scholars called it a “sociocide.”

Putin’s second argument is that Russia is being threatened on its sensitive western border, which had been invaded twice by Germany and caused the loss of 50 million Russian lives. Soon after the Soviet Union collapsed, the West’s military alliance against Russia began moving east. Under Bill Clinton, NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) signed up Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic in 1999 leading to major arms sales by the U.S. giant munitions corporations.

More recently, Putin sees U.S. soldiers in these countries, ever closer U.S. missile launchers, U.S.-led joint naval exercises in the Baltic Sea, and intimations that Ukraine and Georgia could soon join NATO. (Imagine if the Russians were to have such a military presence around the U.S. borders.)

Even often hawkish New York Times columnists – Thomas Friedman and Bret Stephens made this point this week about the brazen U.S. history of military hypocrisy while tearing into Putin. Stephens brought up the Monroe Doctrine over the entire Western Hemisphere, in raising repeatedly the question, “Who are We?”

The chess game between Russia and the West has become more deadly with Putin’s military moves followed by immediate Western sanctions against some Russian banks and oligarchs close to Putin. Travel bans and freezing the completion of the second major natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany are in place with promises of much more severe economic retaliation by Biden.

These sanctions can become a two-way street. Western Europe needs Russian oil and gas, Russian wheat, and essential Russian minerals such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Sanctions against Russia will soon boomerang in terms of higher oil and gas prices for Europeans and Americans, more inflation, worsening supply chains, and the dreaded “economic uncertainty” afflicting stock markets and consumer spending.

The corporate global economy gave us interdependence on other nations, instead of domestic self-reliance under the framework of corporate-managed free trade agreements.

So how many billions of dollars in costs and a weakened economy will Joe Biden tolerate as the price of anti-Putin sanctions that will blowback on the American people? How much suffering will he tolerate being inflicted on the long-suffering Russian people?  What will be the impact on the civilian population of more severe sanctions? And who is he to talk as if he doesn’t have to be authorized by Congress to go further into this state of belligerence, short of sending soldiers, which he said he would not do?

Is Congress to be left as a cheerleader, washing its hands of its constitutional oversight and foreign policy duties? Also, watch Republicans and Democrats in Congress unify to whoop through more money for the bloated military budget, as pointed out by military analyst, Michael Klare. What energy will be left for Biden’s pending “Build Back Better” infrastructure, social safety net, and climate crisis legislation?

In recent weeks, the State Department said it recognizes Russia’s legitimate security concerns but not its expansionism. Well, what is wrong with a ceasefire followed by support for a treaty “guaranteeing neutrality for Ukraine, similar to the enforced neutrality for Austria since the Cold War’s early years,” as Nation publisher and Russia specialist Katrina vanden Heuvel urged. (See: Katrina vanden Heuvel’s Washington Post article and her recent Nation piece).

Putin, unable to get over the breakup of the Soviet Union, probably has imperial ambitions to dominate in Russia’s backyard. Biden has inherited and accepted the U.S. Empire’s ambitions in many other nation’s backyards. Events have polarized this conflict over Ukraine, which is not a security interest for the U.S., into two dominant egos – Putin and Biden – neither of whom want to appear weak or to back down.

This is a dangerous recipe for an out-of-control escalation, much as it was in the lead-up to World War I. Neither the people nor the parliaments mattered then, as seems to be the case today.

Putin isn’t likely to make a cost-benefit assessment of each day’s militarism. But Biden better do so. Otherwise, he will be managed by Putin’s daily moves, instead of insisting on serious negotiations. The Minsk II Peace Accords of February 2015 brokered by Germany, France, and the United Nations that Russia and Ukraine agreed to before falling apart due to disagreements over who should take the first steps, still makes for a useful framework.

It is too late to revisit the accords to stop the invasion. But it should be proposed to introduce a climate for waging peace. Already, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has spoken about an increase in cyberattacks and ransomware demands in her state in recent weeks. Has Biden put that rising certainty in his self-described decades-long foreign policy expertise? Watch out for what you can’t stop, Joe.

February 28, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why a Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima? An animated film with a connection to Hiroshima

Mr. Hidenobu Fukumoto (right) and Mr. Masaru Sato in Hiroshima, courtesy of Mr. Fukumoto
A scene from the animation “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Beginning Story ‘Pass'” (Courtesy of Machi Monogatari Production Committee)
Ms. Yoko Oka (left), Ms. Kinue Ishii (center), and Ms. Hisae Yashima (courtesy of Ms. Oka)
Yoko Oka (right) and Hisae Yashima perform a picture-story show at Kariyado, Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture on December 19, 2020.
A picture book created by Hidenobu Fukumoto. The picture book, created by Hidenobu Fukumoto, is a picture story show and animation based on stories he heard from Fukushima victims.

February 27, 2022

Why was it necessary to build a nuclear power plant in Fukushima? Mr. Hidenobu Fukumoto, 65, a Hiroshima resident who works as a picture-story show artist named Teppei Ikumasa, has created a 57-minute animation titled “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant: The Beginning of the Story ‘Toge'” that traces the historical background of the nuclear power plant from the perspective of a disaster victim, including an unexpected connection to Hiroshima, where the atomic bomb was dropped. The work asks, “What do the repeated disasters caused by radiation appeal to us? This work asks the question.
High economic growth and the ongoing debate on nuclear power

 The protagonist of the story is a man in his 60s who was forced to leave his hometown and live as an evacuee due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. He was born in 1949 in the town of Okuma, where a nuclear power plant was later built. He entered a university in Tokyo during the period of rapid economic growth, when Japan was emerging from postwar poverty and becoming prosperous, and enjoyed his student life.

 The story, however, brings to light the major changes that are occurring in Japan with regard to nuclear power while the country is enjoying affluence.

 The story depicts U.S. President Eisenhower’s speech to the United Nations in 1953, in which he called for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the subsequent exposition on the peaceful use of nuclear energy held in Hiroshima and other cities, the radiation exposure of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru in 1954 due to a U.S. hydrogen bomb test, and the investigation of the location of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture in 1960.

 In the scene of the A-bomb hospital in Hiroshima, a young girl asks her mother, lying in bed, to “get well and take me to the Nuclear Peace Expo. When the man, now a university student, returns home, the huge buildings of the nuclear power plant are already towering over him, and he is speechless. Then, the images travel back in time to 2011.

 At the end of the story, while living in an evacuation shelter, the man speaks. In the name of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear power plants spread in a global wave, taking in even the damage caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I guess there was nothing we ordinary people could do about it.
The story of the nuclear power plant in Hiroshima: the inspiration for the animation

 Mr. Fukumoto wrote the script and drew the animation based on interviews with people in Fukushima and published materials. The impetus for the production of the animation came from an unbelievable story he heard from a victim of the disaster: “I heard that there was talk of building a nuclear power plant in Hiroshima.

Mr. Fukumoto is from the city of Hiroshima…

(This article is for paid members only. You can read more by becoming a paid member)

https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ2V6S32Q26UTFL00H.html?fbclid=IwAR0xKLAWfQf3mRTfIMnv6wFA5TGr5Cpogd-3Ba9M8AsBnlg4EBx85qw6y6M

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

DPP uses Taiwan people’s health as bargaining chip

Taiwan’s Fukushima food ban lifting viewed from mainland China

Photo taken on July 21, 2019 from Xiangshan Mountain shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, China’s Taiwan.

February 25, 2022

The Taiwan authorities formally lifted the ban on food imports from Japan’s Fukushima and four other prefectures on Monday. The ban was imposed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

The island authorities’ move is similar to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s decision in 2021 to lift the restrictions on the import of pork with ractopamine, a feed additive harmful to human health, from the United States. In fact, it is also to please the US that the DPP is opening up the island’s market to food products from Fukushima ignoring the high risk of nuclear contamination.

By ignoring the health concerns about the food products from Fukushima, the DPP is putting Taiwan residents’ health and lives in danger.

After a devastating earthquake-triggered tsunami caused a meltdown of three of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s six nuclear reactors on March 11, 2011, governments around the world imposed restrictions on food imports from five Japanese prefectures-Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba. The Taiwan authorities imposed the ban in late March that year.

Yet since taking power in 2016, the DPP has been trying to lift the ban in exchange for Japan’s support for its “Taiwan independence” agenda. In fact, the DPP has lifted the ban despite a 2018 referendum in which people voted overwhelmingly to continue the ban.

Ironically, the DPP won many Taiwan residents’ support because of its anti-nuclear stance. “Use love to generate electricity” was a slogan the DPP used at the time to lure people to its side. But since coming to power six years ago, the DPP in its bid to split the island from the motherland has reneged on its anti-nuclear promise.

The lifting of the ban on Fukushima food products in a desperate attempt to boost ties with Japan to counter the Chinese mainland is an apt example of the DPP’s subterfuge.

For the same reason, the DPP accepted US conditions and resumed the import of US pork, ignoring the health hazards it poses to Taiwan residents.

The DPP believes compromising food safety to get security guarantee from the US and Japan is very cost-effective. That’s why it used every possible trick to brainwash Taiwan residents and convince them that food products from those five Japanese prefectures are not “food with radioactivity” but “food with blessing”.

Also, the DPP has been claiming that the lifting of the ban will boost Taiwan’s chances of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. In fact, Chen Chi-chung, the official in charge of the island’s agriculture, said that with the withdrawal of the ban, the island’s imports from Japan will increase by a maximum of $70 million a year while Japan’s import of Taiwan’s pineapples-18,000 tons last year and 30,000 tons this year-alone will exceed that amount.

It seems the DPP considers eating nuclear-contaminated food in exchange for exporting pineapples a good deal. The DPP’s arbitrary and anti-people decision is the result of its obscurantist and narrow policies.

Many Taiwan residents still believe in the DPP’s propaganda to the extent of blindly following its diktats even though those diktats are against their well-being and interests. Those people who voted the DPP to power for the second time only to end up eating pork with ractopamine from the US and radiation-exposed food from Fukushima are swallowing their own bitter fruits.

The DPP’s rule is nothing but a reign of terror. A party which uses the health and lives of the people as a bargaining chip in exchange for the support of anti-China forces will become more brazen in its quest to fulfill its narrow benefits. So Taiwan residents who voted for the DPP have to suffer the consequences of their choice.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University.

https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202202/25/WS6218136da310cdd39bc88c70.html

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Reconstruction Agency Distributes “Treated Water Fliers,” Causing Puzzled Voices from the Education Sector

February 25, 2022

The Reconstruction Agency has distributed flyers to schools across Japan asking for their understanding of the increasing release of treated water containing tritium and other radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

From December to January of last year, the Reconstruction Agency distributed flyers to junior high schools and high schools across the country explaining about the treated water containing tritium and other radioactive materials.

The fliers stated that “tritium is all around us” and “there is no concern about the effects on your health”, etc. The government distributed the fliers in the hope that people would have a correct understanding based on scientific evidence and not be misled by false information.

However, while there are deep-rooted voices against the release of tritium and other treated water into the ocean, such as those from the fishing industry, there are many confused voices from the educational field.

The principal of a junior high school in Hamadori said, “To be honest, I was puzzled by the handling of the flyers. Treated water is a delicate issue, and since Hamadori is the site itself, we have to be more sensitive to it,” he said, and decided not to distribute the flyers to students.

In addition, some school boards around the country have voiced their discomfort with the contents of the flyer, saying, “We would like to carefully judge whether it is appropriate to use this flyer in radiation education,” and “The government should check the contents more before distributing it.

Mr. Nishimei, the Minister of Reconstruction, said, “We did not anticipate that there would be confusion when we distributed the leaflets. I had no idea that something like this would happen in the field.

On the other hand, Shinobu Goto, an associate professor at Fukushima University’s Graduate School of Symbiotic Systems Science and Engineering, who is an expert on radiation education, said, “In the field of education, it is especially important to enable discussion from multiple perspectives. It is necessary to discuss together with those who oppose the release of radiation, including the reasons why they oppose it,” he said, pointing out the importance of providing opportunities to learn about diverse opinions in the field of education.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/lnews/fukushima/20220225/6050017355.html?fbclid=IwAR33ufbih6A7hS5nn5L-AWmIkrYitrgetG1D8usDX8UXvmyjon0W8DHitE4

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

The status of the interim storage facility for storing waste from decontamination is disclosed

February 22, 2022

On the 22nd, the progress of the interim storage facility for the waste from the decontamination of Fukushima Prefecture was shown to the press.
The delivery of waste from areas other than the difficult-to-return areas will be almost finished next month.

The Ministry of the Environment is storing decontamination waste from Fukushima Prefecture in an interim storage facility located in Okuma and Futaba towns, and the site was opened to the press on the 22nd.
One of the storage sites for soil from the decontamination process is 15 meters high and 900,000 cubic meters of soil is being piled up.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, 92% of the 1,400 cubic meters of decontamination waste generated in areas other than the difficult-to-return areas had been brought in as of November last year, and the Ministry expects to finish bringing in almost all of it by the end of next month.

In addition, waste generated in the areas where decontamination is being carried out in preparation for the lifting of evacuation orders will continue to be delivered.

It has been decided that the final disposal of the waste will be outside of Fukushima Prefecture by 2045, and the Ministry of the Environment hopes to reuse the soil from the decontamination for public projects.

Mr. Masanori Shoko, deputy director of the Fukushima Regional Environment Office, said, “It is important to gain nationwide understanding for the reuse of the soil, and we have been holding dialogue meetings, but we feel that the understanding of the younger generation is an issue. We would like to continue our efforts so that they will be interested in the final disposal outside of the prefecture.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/lnews/fukushima/20220222/6050017330.html?fbclid=IwAR1hiH53kc7RiR7wPIdX35SneWkjAqFeE0JVeH8rtNISyu4jRNoOtoIYnpo

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Some local governments have stopped distributing flyers directly to schools saying that treated water from nuclear power plants is safe

A flyer prepared by the Reconstruction Agency for junior and senior high school students titled “Three Things I Want You to Know About ALPS Treated Water” (Miyagi Prefectural Government, February 21, 2022) (photo by Ryuichiro Fukuoka, Asahi Shimbun)

February 22, 2022

A government flyer emphasizing the safety of treated water from Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has been distributed to educational facilities in Miyagi Prefecture, causing a stir. Some schools have stopped distributing the leaflets amid deep-rooted opposition to the planned release of treated water into the ocean next spring. There is criticism that the government is unilaterally not imposing safety.

There are two types of flyers: one for elementary school students, “The push for reconstruction starts with knowing” (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy), and another for junior and senior high school students, “Three things you should know about ALPS treated water” (Reconstruction Agency). These were sent directly to each school in December last year, enclosed in a supplementary reader on radiation prepared by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Approximately 2.3 million copies were distributed nationwide to elementary, junior high, and high schools.

 In the flyer for elementary school students, the treated water is introduced as “safe for human consumption and drinking. For junior and senior high school students, the flyers said that tritium, a radioactive substance contained in the treated water, “does not pose a health risk” and “is already being discharged into the ocean around the world.

 A representative of the Reconstruction Agency said, “We sent the letter as supplementary material to provide scientific explanations to prevent harmful rumors from spreading.
https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/4e90162f416b1dc1d88618a136371e2a296d24be?fbclid=IwAR2cZSiMyy0u5ZRy3dNF8eupT9T9bgpR4E2Z3b7DPISHfk2ouBcGebhrpnc

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

As Russia Seizes Chernobyl Site, Ukraine’s 15 Nuclear Reactors Pose Unprecedented Risk in War Zone

February 28, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine has 0% of winning, so sending weapons is a pointless exercise, except for the money.

Caitlin Johnstone, 28 Feb 22, Ukraine has a 0% chance of winning this war alone, no matter how many weapons are sent to it. All weapons can do is make the war more costly for Russia, which it’s in the US empire’s interests to do. Stop pretending your calls for more weapons are anything more noble than that.

February 28, 2022 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Blanket anti-Russian propaganda leaves no tolerance for nuanced reporting – media censorship is expanding

……….Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Humans are storytelling creatures, so whoever can control the stories the humans are telling themselves about what’s going on in the world has a great deal of control over the humans.

The powerful understand this, while the general public mostly does not.

[Western govts and] media are pushing for more. Articles and news segments warning of the sinister threat posed by Russian propaganda to misinform and divide western populations.

………….  They’re not worried about Russian propaganda operations, they’re worried about someone else running interference on their own propaganda operations.

Russian Propaganda’ Is The Latest Excuse To Expand Censorship Substack, Caitlin Johnstone, 28 Feb 22,

“I’m concerned about Russian disinformation spreading online, so today I wrote to the CEOs of major tech companies to ask them to restrict the spread of Russian propaganda,” US Senator Mark Warner tweeted on Friday.

Since then YouTube has announced that it has suppressed videos by Russian state media channels so that they’ll be seen by fewer people in accordance with its openly acknowledged policy of algorithmically censoring unauthorized content, as well as de-monetizing all such videos on the platform. Google and Facebook/Instagram parent company Meta both banned Russian state media from running ads and monetizing on their platforms in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Twitter announced a pause on ads in both Russia and Ukraine.

“Glad to see action from tech companies to reign in Russian propaganda and disinformation after my letter to their CEOs yesterday,” Warner tweeted on Saturday. “These are important first steps, but I’ll keep pushing for more.”

For years US lawmakers have been using threats of profit-destroying consequences to pressure Silicon Valley companies into limiting online speech in a way that aligns with the interests of Washington, effectively creating a system of government censorship by proxy. It would appear that we’re seeing a new expansion of this phenomenon today.

And the imperial media are pushing for more. Articles and news segments warning of the sinister threat posed by Russian propaganda to misinform and divide western populations using the internet are being churned out at a rate that’s only likely to increase as this latest narrative management campaign gets into full gear. The Associated Press has a new article out for example titled “War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine“.

…………………………..  As tends to happen whenever a consensus begins to form that a certain category of speech must be purged from the internet, imperial spinmeisters are already working to expand the definition of “Russian propaganda” which must be purged from the internet to include independent anti-imperialist commentators like myself…………………..

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, an empire-loyal NGO ostensibly focused primarily on fighting racism and prejudice, has published a report accusing Facebook of failing to label Russian propaganda as such 91 percent of the times it occurs. The CCDH decried Mark Zuckerberg’s “failure to stop Facebook being weaponized by the Russian state”.

………….  They’re not worried about Russian propaganda operations, they’re worried about someone else running interference on their own propaganda operations.

……….Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Humans are storytelling creatures, so whoever can control the stories the humans are telling themselves about what’s going on in the world has a great deal of control over the humans. Our mental chatter tends to dominate such a large percentage of our existence that if it can be controlled the controller can exert a tremendous amount of influence over the way we think, act, and vote. 

The powerful understand this, while the general public mostly does not.

That’s all we’ve been seeing in these attempts to regulate ideas and information as human communication becomes more and more rapid and networked. An entire oligarchic empire is built on the ability to prevent us from realizing at mass scale that that empire does not serve us and inflicts great evil upon our world. The question of whether our species can awaken to its highest potential or not boils down to whether our dominators will succeed in locking down our minds, or if we will find some way to break free.  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/russian-propaganda-is-the-latest?utm_source=url

February 28, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Glenn Greenwald: war propaganda about Ukraine becoming more militaristic, authoritarian, and reckless

War Propaganda About Ukraine Becoming More Militaristic, Authoritarian, and Reckless

To believe that this is a conflict of pure Good versus pure Evil, that Putin bears all blame for the conflict and the U.S., the West, and Ukraine bear none, and that the only way to understand this conflict is through the prism of war criminality and aggression only takes one so far.

there is still a wide range of vital geopolitical and factual questions that must be considered and freely debated, including:

The severe dangers of unintended escalation with greater U.S. involvement and confrontation toward Russia;
The mammoth instability and risks that would be created by collapsing the Russian economy and/or forcing Putin from power, leaving the world’s largest or second-largest nuclear stockpile to a very uncertain fate;
The ongoing validity of Obama’s long-standing view of Ukraine (echoed by Trump), which persisted even after Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 following a referendum, that Ukraine is of vital interest only to Russia and not the U.S., and the U.S. should never risk war with Russia over it;

The bizarre way in which it has become completely taboo and laughable to suggest that NATO expansion to the Russian border and threats to offer Ukraine membership is deeply and genuinely threatening not just to Putin but all Russian

The clearly valid questions regarding the actual U.S intentions concerning Ukraine: i.e., that a noble, selfless and benevolent American desire to protect a fledgling democracy against a despotic aggressor may not be the predominant goal.

Every useful or pleasing claim about the war, no matter how unverified or subsequently debunked, rapidly spreads, while dissenters are vilified as traitors or Kremlin agents.

Glenn Greenwald, 27 Feb 22, In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, those warning of the possible dangers of U.S. involvement were assured that such concerns were baseless. The prevailing line insisted that nobody in Washington is even considering let alone advocating that the U.S. become militarily involved in a conflict with Russia. That the concern was based not on the belief that the U.S. would actively seek such a war, but rather on the oft-unintended consequences of being swamped with war propaganda and the high levels of tribalism, jingoism and emotionalism that accompany it, was ignored. It did not matter how many wars one could point to in history that began unintentionally, with unchecked, dangerous tensions spiraling out of control. Anyone warning of this obviously dangerous possibility was met with the “straw man” cliché: you are arguing against a position that literally nobody in D.C. is defending.

Less than a week into this war, that can no longer be said.

Continue reading

February 28, 2022 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Russia President Vladimir Putin puts his nuclear forces on alert

Putin’s alert raises two types of risks that the conflict might escalate into a nuclear conflict: deliberate and inadvertent.

Much depends on whether Russia is alerting its strategic nuclear forces, which would focus on protecting the regime from attack on Russian soil, or its theater forces, which would be oriented toward influencing the military and political situation on the continent.

In the fog of war, countries may shoot first and ask questions later.

The Ukraine crisis is now a nuclear crisis  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/27/ukraine-crisis-is-now-nuclear-crisis/ Russian President Vladimir Putin just put his nuclear forces on alert, By Caitlin Talmadge 27 Feb 22

Russia’s publicly announced nuclear alert has turned the Ukraine war from a crisis involving nuclear powers to an actual nuclear crisis.

With the caveat that we do not have many details about what the Russian alert entails, it is nevertheless a clear sign that President Vladimir Putin does not believe that the conventional military campaign in Ukraine is achieving the political outcomes he wants.

Putin has turned to nuclear weapons because they offer another way to increase pressure on both Ukraine and its international backers to come to the settlement that Russia wants regarding Ukraine’s status. Yet his decision raises serious risks of both deliberate and inadvertent nuclear escalation.

This is a scary moment, but it’s not unprecedented or that surprising. Here is why.

Nuclear signals like this are not new

Putin has explicitly signaled from the beginning of the Ukraine war that he might turn to Russia’s nuclear arsenal if outside powers interfered with his campaign or were perceived to be threatening Russia itself.

In fact, Putin’s initial nuclear threat likely was intended as a shield to keep the West out of Russia’s conventional operations. This highlights what international relations scholars call the stability-instability paradox. The danger of nuclear war may keep nuclear powers from fighting all-out because they fear it would escalate. However, precisely because all-out war would be so mutually damaging, the likelihood of conventional war or even limited nuclear use can increase.

Amid reports of Russia’s lagging conventional invasion, Putin may now believe that climbing up to the next rung on the so-called escalation ladder is the only way to achieve the coercive effect he wants.

Such a move fits with his decision to announce the alert so publicly — rather than keeping it secret, as nuclear matters usually are — to ensure that the world gets the message and other nations have to respond.

Putin’s approach is not new. Countries often rely on their nuclear arsenals to compensate for inferiority with conventional weapons as shown by Pakistan, North Korea, and NATO’s threats to escalate during the Cold War. The idea is to deter conventional attack or prevent conventional defeat through threats of nuclear first use. The The world has even seen episodes of explicit signals that nuclear weapons could be used, as Putin has done, by states losing conventional battles in the past: Pakistan versus India in 2001-2002, for example, and Israel versus the Arab coalition in 1973.

There are real escalation risks — both intentional and unintentional

Putin’s alert raises two types of risks that the conflict might escalate into a nuclear conflict: deliberate and inadvertent.

First, the deliberate nuclear escalation risk comes from the possibility that Putin might actually use nuclear weapons, particularly tactical (short-range) nuclear weapons, to achieve his military objectives in Ukraine. Again, this is a major reason countries develop such weapons in the first place — to achieve what they think conventional forces cannot.

It is the same reason that the odds of Russian attacks against civilians have increased in the last day or two. From Putin’s standpoint, nuclear threats are likely just another escalatory lever to force the political outcome Russia wants.

Putin might also turn to medium-range nuclear weapons to coerce neighbors in Europe who are seeking to support Ukraine militarily, diplomatically, or politically. Of course, doing the latter against any NATO ally would be extremely escalatory and invoke U.S. commitments to defend its NATO allies under Article V of NATO’s founding treaty.

Second, raising the alert status of nuclear weapons inherently raises the likelihood of their use — and this is what generates inadvertent nuclear escalation risk. Details are sparse, but we could expect the readiness of Russia’s nuclear forces to now be heightened, and the command and control arrangements governing use of nuclear weapons to possibly be loosened, meaning they could be launched more easily.

Whether Russia has actually practiced these operations and how safely they can be conducted remain unclear. Risks of accidents and unauthorized use could increase. Countries sometimes undertake dangerous measures to signal their readiness to use nuclear weapons, as China did in 1969 when it fueled its rudimentary nuclear weapons in a lengthy border crisis versus the Soviets.

Furthermore, Russia’s alert could prompt counter-reactions in the United States, France and Britain. If they alert their forces as well, the chances of misperception — including Russian misperception of an impending nuclear attack — heighten further.

Much depends on whether Russia is alerting its strategic nuclear forces, which would focus on protecting the regime from attack on Russian soil, or its theater forces, which would be oriented toward influencing the military and political situation on the continent.

Worryingly, this is happening in a time of deep distrust and mutual suspicion, in which ambiguous signals from one country are likely to be viewed in the worst possible light by its opponents. This is precisely the sort of environment in which inadvertent nuclear escalation becomes most likely.

In the fog of war, countries may shoot first and ask questions later. This is how the Soviets ended up mistakenly shooting down a Korean civilian airliner in 1983 during a period of heightened nuclear tension with the United States, and why the Iranians did the same thing in the aftermath of the U.S. strike on Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in early 2020.

Putin is a personalist dictator — and that has its own risks

Adding to both the deliberate and inadvertent escalation dangers is Putin’s status as a personalist dictator. As Jessica L.P. Weeks and Jeff D. Colgan explained here at TMC, these autocrats have few constraints on decision-making authority and are very unlikely to get candid information from advisers. utin, an aging leader by Russian standards, likely views the current crisis as threatening not only his foreign policy goals but also his domestic political prospects at home, including his personal survival and freedom.

Putin may also want the world to worry that he is just enough of a madman to lash out when his back is against the wall. Again, this is a tactic leaders have tried before, including Khrushchev in the Berlin Crises of 1958 and 1961, and President Richard Nixon when he attempted to pressure the Soviets over Vietnam in 1969. This approach did not work well for these leaders — but they were all far more constrained than Putin.

This institutional and personal context may make Putin more risk-acceptant — that is, more willing to gamble on dangerous nuclear threats to save his regime — than other leaders. It also likely makes him more paranoid. These tendencies again reinforce the escalatory dangers stemming from Putin’s recent decision.

Caitlin Talmadge (@ProfTalmadge) is associate professor of security studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is the author of “The Dictator’s Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes” (Cornell University Press, 2015).

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Belarus to end its non-nuclear-weapon status


Belarus holds referendum to renounce non-nuclear status

The referendum shedding Belarus’ neutral status comes as Russia put nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.  Aljazeera,  27 Feb 2022

Belarus is holding a referendum to adopt a new constitution that would ditch its non-nuclear status, at a time when the country has become a launchpad for Russian troops invading Ukraine.

The vote on Sunday is almost certain to pass under the tightly controlled rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, bringing nuclear weapons back on Belarusian soil for the first time since the country gave them up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Lukashenko has fallen behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military assault on Ukraine after earlier playing an intermediary role between the two neighbours.

Putin on Sunday ordered Russian nuclear deterrent forces put on high alert, in a dramatic escalation of tensions with the West.

Speaking at a polling station, Lukashenko said that he could ask Russia to return nuclear weapons to Belarus.

“If you (the West) transfer nuclear weapons to Poland or Lithuania, to our borders, then I will turn to Putin to return the nuclear weapons that I gave away without any conditions,” Lukashenko said.

The constitutional referendum shedding Belarus’ neutral status opens the way for stronger military cooperation with Russia, which deployed forces to Belarusian territory under the pretext of military drills and then sent them rolling into Ukraine as part of the invasion that began on Thursday.

The amendments will also cement Lukashenko’s 27-year-old grip on power, allowing the president to stay in power until 2035 and giving him lifetime immunity from prosecution once he leaves office………………………….. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/27/belarus-holds-referendum-to-renounce-non-nuclear-status

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Belarus, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EU to purchase weapons for Ukraine — live updates, DW


EU to purchase weapons for Ukraine — live updates, DW

The European Union said it will spend €450 million on weapons and equipment for Ukraine. Kyiv and Moscow have sent envoys to peace talks on the Belarus border. DW has the latest.

VSeveral countries have promised to equip Ukrainian soldiers with weapons.

  • Putin has ordered nuclear deterrence be put on alert
  • Ukraine agrees to talks at the Belarus border
  • The EU will buy weapons for Ukraine to fight Russia
  • Russians attack a gas pipeline and oil tanks

G7 threatens more sanctions against Russia

The G7 group of top industrialized nations warned Moscow that it could face additional sanctions if the war in Ukraine continues……………………………. https://www.dw.com/en/eu-to-purchase-weapons-for-ukraine-live-updates/a-60931396

February 28, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s rushed nuclear submarine plan- irrelevant, as China’s technology will outpace it.

Australia’s hasty nuclear submarine plan to be outpaced by China’s development: experts, Global Times, By Liu Xuanzun and Leng Shumei: Feb 08, 2022 In an attempt to contain China, Australian Defense Minister recently said that Australia could get the first nuclear submarine under the framework of AUKUS before 2038. However, Chinese military experts said on Tuesday that this delivery schedule is too hasty and China’s rapid development during this period will outpace the Australian one……………..

When the AUKUS agreement was announced, an 18-month process was launched by all members to figure out the best way to deliver Australia nuclear submarines, according to the report by the Sydney Morning Herald.

“From a technological perspective, it is possible that Australia could get its first nuclear submarine by 2038 since the US and the UK are indeed capable of building this kind of submarine,” Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the People’s Liberation Army, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

However, the question remains on exactly what kind of nuclear submarine Australia will get.

If, for example, the US is willing to sell its off-the-rack Virginia-class submarine or transfer its technology and production lines to Australia, then, 2038 is possible. But, if the three countries are thinking about a customized or a completely new submarine, which is more likely in this case due to the high sensitivity of this kind of military hardware, it will likely take longer, analysts said.

“2038 sounds hasty to design and build a new nuclear submarine for a country with no experience, even with technology transfer,” a Chinese military expert who requested to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Australia is not a nuclear power and the plan by the US and the UK to grant Australia nuclear-powered submarines increases the risks of nuclear proliferation and an arms race, experts said.

“From a political point of view, the three countries would also have to face the pressure from the international community to meet that schedule,” Zhang said, adding that “even if Australia does get the nuclear submarine, it will not be such a big threat to China, since war cannot be won with just one or two types of weapons.”
“2038 sounds hasty to design and build a new nuclear submarine for a country with no experience, even with technology transfer,” a Chinese military expert who requested to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Australia is not a nuclear power and the plan by the US and the UK to grant Australia nuclear-powered submarines increases the risks of nuclear proliferation and an arms race, experts said.

“From a political point of view, the three countries would also have to face the pressure from the international community to meet that schedule,” Zhang said, adding that “even if Australia does get the nuclear submarine, it will not be such a big threat to China, since war cannot be won with just one or two types of weapons.”………………………….. 

China did not militarize the South China Sea, as all Chinese presence in the region serves only to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the expert said, noting that countries from outside of the region like the US, which have been sending warships and warplanes, are the real ones responsible for the militarization in the South China Sea.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202202/1251779.shtml

February 28, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian control of Chernobyl may have been aimed against alleged Ukrainian plan to produce nuclear weapons.

Russian control of Chernobyl may have been aimed against alleged Ukrainian plan to produce nukes, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/russian-control-of-chernobyl-may-have-been-aimed-against-alleged-ukrainian-plan-to-produce-nukes/articleshow/89836416.cms

Russian control of Chernobyl may have been aimed against alleged Ukrainian plan to produce nukes, By
Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

Synopsis

Ukraine was allegedly making plans to produce 8-10 nuclear bombs with the available plutonium with support from certain foreign powers, sources indicated to ET. Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons.

The Russian military reportedly seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant amid apprehensions that Ukraine allegedly backed by foreign powers may have launched the process to build nukes based on Plutonium-239 available in the complex.

Ukraine was allegedly making plans to produce 8-10 nuclear bombs with the available plutonium with support from certain foreign powers, sources indicated to ET. Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotop ..

Russia considered this alleged plan as a threat close to their borders and one of their goals in Ukraine was to nix the plan, claimed one of the above mentioned sources.    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said on Thursday that Russian forces are trying to seize control of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry tweeted that a Russian attack on Ukraine could “cause another ecological disaster.” “In 1986, the world saw the biggest technological disaster in Chernobyl,” the ministry tweeted. “If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl can happen again in 2022.”

Chernobyl is located on the shortest route from Belarus to Ukrainian capital Kyiv. It may be recalled that the fourth reactor at Chernobyl, 108 km north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, exploded in April 1986.

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances refers to three identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest on December 5, 1994 to provide security assurances by its signatories relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the  Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

As a result, between 1994 and 1996, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Until then, Ukraine had the world’s third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile.

February 28, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment