Because of course it’s fantastic timing… NATO plans to go through with scheduled nuclear exercises next week despite the ratcheting nuclear rhetoric surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war, which also only days ago saw President Joe Biden warn of the risk of the world witnessing “Armageddon” in highly controversial remarks.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed in Tuesday statements that the “Steadfast Noon” exercises, which are held annually and go for about a week, will proceed without delay. “It would send a very wrong signal if we suddenly now cancelled a routine, long-time planned exercise because of the war in Ukraine. That would be absolutely the wrong signal to send,” he told a press briefing on the eve of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
He stressed that instead of carrying extra risks during this current heightened climate of tensions, it’s best to remain “firm” in conducting predictable behavior. “If we now created the grounds for any misunderstandings, miscalculations in Moscow about our willingness to protect and defend all allies, we would increase the risk of escalation,” Stoltenberg reasoned.
As part of the drills, nuclear warhead-capable aircraft will be deployed in mock raids, however, they won’t be carrying live bombs, Brussels assures. And yet the entirely unpredictable factor is how Russia would react or if its military would possibly decide to ‘mirror’ such drills.
“Fourteen of the 30 NATO member countries will be involved in the exercise, which was planned before Russia invaded Ukraine in February,” the Associated Press details of next week’s exercises. “The main part of the maneuvers would be held more than 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) from Russia, a NATO official said.”
Three NATO members maintain their own nuclear arsenals – the US, France, and Britain, while others host these nukes as part of an alliance nuclear-sharing program. Poland has this month controversially offered to Washington that it’s ready and willing to host US nukes in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The US administration has remained cool toward this possibility in the near-term, seeing in it a likely unnecessary escalation with Moscow.
Yet for all the NATO talk of keeping things “predictable” – including these forthcoming nuclear exercises, some senior NATO officials are still issuing stark warnings, per Reuters:
A Russian nuclear strike would change the course of the conflict and almost certainly provoke a “physical response” from Ukraine’s allies and potentially from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a senior NATO official said on Wednesday.
The official stressed “unprecedented consequences” would await Russia if Vladimir Putin used nukes in Ukraine and would “almost certainly be drawing a physical response from many allies, and potentially from NATO itself.” The words were issued on the eve of a closed-door NATO “nuclear planning group” meeting.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Ukraine Tells People Not To Panic As WHO Warns Of ‘Life-Threatening’ Winter
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced in a Monday statement that the power situation in Ukraine is so dire that it will potentially be “life-threatening” for millions of Ukrainians due to the recent devastating series of Russian air attacks on the national energy grid.
“Put simply – this winter will be about survival,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations’ health body, said from the Ukrainian capital. “This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” he added.
The attacks, the last major wave of which came this past Tuesday and continued intermittently into the weekend, are “already having knock-out effects on the health system and on the people’s health,” Kluge described.
“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational,” the WHO official said. “We expect two to three million more people to leave their homes in search of warmth and safety,” he forewarned.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal last Friday estimated that half of the entirety of the country’s energy infrastructure has been disabled by the Russian attacks at this point. Millions are already without power as temperatures plunge and Kiev saw its first snow of the season starting days ago.
“Unfortunately Russia continues to carry out missile strikes on Ukraine’s civilian and critical infrastructure. Almost half of our energy system is disabled,” Shmyhal was cited in Reuters as saying.
Politico reported last week that Congressional leaders had been given classified intelligence reports detailing the expected impact of Russia’s campaign to degrade Ukraine’s power grid.
“The Ukrainian government is warning Western allies that it is anticipating increased Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure in the coming days and that Kyiv does not have enough replacement parts to bring heat and power back online if those occur, according to two congressional officials and one Western official briefed on U.S. intelligence,” the report said.
Politico detailed further that “Ukrainian officials have in recent days asked their American counterparts and more than half a dozen European countries for assistance preparing for a prolonged period with limited electricity and gas — a scenario Kyiv expects to complicate fighting on the ground and displace civilians, the officials and an adviser to the Ukrainian government said.”
Amid emergency rolling blackouts and city or regional mandates banning use of large appliances and other imposed consumption limits, Ukraine government officials are urging the people not to panic. “Denying the panicky statements spread by social networks and online media, we assure you that the situation with the energy supply is difficult, but under control,” the energy ministry said in a Saturday statement.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
AP Fires Reporter Behind False Report Claiming ‘Russian Missiles Struck Poland’
The Associated Press on Monday fired one of two reporters with a byline on last week’s now-retracted report that claimed “Russian missiles” had “crossed into NATO member Poland” and killed two people.
That report, which was widely cited across the internet and on cable news, was taken offline the following day and replaced with an editor’s note admitting the single source [a “senior U.S. intelligence official”] was wrong and that “subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.”
On Monday, the AP fired James LaPorta, the investigative reporter responsible for that story, Confider has learned.
The piece, which was originally co-bylined with John Leicester (who is still working at the AP), attributed the information to a single “senior U.S. intelligence official,” despite the AP’s rule that it “routinely seeks and requires more than one source when sourcing is anonymous.”
The only exception, according to its statement of news values and principles, is when “material comes from an authoritative figure who provides information so detailed that there is no question of its accuracy”—a situation that seemingly did not occur, as the report was fully retracted last Wednesday.
When reached for comment, an AP spokesperson did not comment on LaPorta’s ouster but instead wrote: “The rigorous editorial standards and practices of The Associated Press are critical to AP’s mission as an independent news organization. To ensure our reporting is accurate, fair and fact-based, we abide by and enforce these standards, including around the use of anonymous sources.”
The Washington Post blamed internal “confusion and misunderstanding” for the report:
Internal AP communications viewed by The Post show some confusion and misunderstanding during the preparations of the erroneous report.
LaPorta shared the U.S. official’s tip in an electronic message around 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. An editor immediately asked if AP should issue an alert on his tip, “or would we need confirmation from another source and/or Poland?”
After further discussion, a second editor said she “would vote” for publishing an alert, adding, “I can’t imagine a U.S. intelligence official would be wrong on this.”
But a person at the Associated Press familiar with the larger conversations surrounding the story that day said LaPorta also told his editors that a senior manager had already vetted the source of LaPorta’s tip — leaving the impression that the story’s sourcing had been approved. While that editor had signed off on previous stories using LaPorta’s source, that editor had not weighed in on the missile story.
Easton said the organization did not anticipate any discipline for the editors involved.
“She” voted to publish this bombshell report that violated the AP’s own rules on the use of anonymous sources and risked sparking WW3 because she couldn’t “imagine” a senior U.S. intelligence official could be wrong but she is not being fired — only LaPorta is getting canned.
Some great “standards” you got there, AP!This post was originally published at Information Liberation
Sweden Finds “Foreign Objects” & Explosive Residue On Nord Stream Pipelines
Swedish investigators announced Friday the conclusion of their formal investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline blasts on September 26. To nobody’s surprise, the investigation has concluded the natural gas leaks which rocked European energy markets and resulted in tit-for-tat accusations between Moscow and the West was the result of “gross sabotage”.
While not naming a culprit, the Swedish final report of this initial stage of the inquiry uncovered evidence of “foreign objects” placed on the pipelines.
“During analyzes carried out, residues of explosives have been identified on several of the foreign objects seized,” the report said.
The Swedish Prosecution Authority’s statement said, “In the crime scene investigations carried out on site in the Baltic Sea, the area and the extensive damage to the gas lines as a result of the detonations have been extensively documented.”
Russia has denied responsibility, while at the same time pointing the finger at Washington or its allies. Swedish investigators say they will now work toward establishing who was behind the sabotage:
“The advanced analysis work is still in progress – the aim is to draw more definitive conclusions about the Nord Stream incidents,” the agency said. “The investigation is extensive and complex and will eventually show whether anyone can be suspected of, and later prosecuted for this.”
Previously, Denmark and Sweden said soon after the massive leaks in late September that the blasts “probably corresponded to an explosive load of several hundred kilos.”
Russian media sources, as well as a handful of Western pundits, have alleged that US naval activity was observed in that regional of the Baltic Sea during the time of the incident.
If Sweden ultimately says that Russia was behind the attack on the pipelines, Moscow is likely to dismiss it, and call for their own independent access to and investigation of the evidence and site.This post originally appeared at Zero Hedge
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