09.05.2023 Author: Henry Kamens

Weapons Trafficking: NATO Expansion & Wishful-thinking …

Real Purpose of NATO

Any discourse on Turkey is usually connected with other events, and not Turkey in itself—domestic issues, however, what they mean to others, near and far, is a different story. This has been most apparent in terms of events in Iraq, Syria, and now with undulating happenings regarding NATO expansion, events in Ukraine, and if Ukraine belongs in NATO or not?

It is really a moot issue if you want to believe, or listen to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg when he said in late April that “Ukraine’s future is in NATO” but what he does not say is       when. Even the title of a CNN article explains the rest of the story, the second part of the headline reveals it all “but Kyiv likely won’t join any time soon.”

We can leave that discussion there but get to what he was more likely referring to, in terms of wanting to supply more NATO standard weapons to Ukraine. It is not difficult to understand the motivation, as Stoltenberg is basically a spokesperson for the US and the Military-industrial complex, the modern-day Merchants of Death and Destruction. However, it seems it is never enough, and even leaked Pentagon documents indicate the same, and always a day late and dollars short.

Real Purpose of NATO

NATO and its purpose is a question of life or death, a value-added weapon supply “ratline” that keeps Western policymakers in power and the money flowing into the right pockets, i.e., those elites in NATO member countries.  The stakeholder pockets are like a rabbit hole and shady businessmen and former politicians, retired military officers, etc., can be seen on the different levels as you fall into the abyss….

For all practical purposes, at least for the sake of this discussion, Ukraine is already in NATO, its army was trained and equipped in large part by NATO member countries, and even NATO’s own website says pretty much the same but with major contradictions:

Ukraine is not a NATO member. Ukraine is a NATO partner country, which means that it cooperates closely with NATO, but it is not covered by the security guarantee in the Alliance’s founding treaty.

But 2-Many Contradictions

The question then is: Why NATO and why various allies continue to provide Ukraine with unprecedented levels of support when it is not covered under the security guarantee? That is a no-brainer, as the term proxy covers it all. But more is involved, a lot depends on which think tank is in vogue or how the political winds are blowing and when it comes to Turkey, Hungary or France are supporting Ukraine membership in NATO or not?

Some describe Turkey’s position as walking a tightrope between its role in NATO and its relations with Russia, and being a regional force in maintaining peace and its own economic and political survival at home and abroad.  For instance, Yörük Işık, who is a geopolitical analyst at the Middle East Institute, makes a convincing discussion of the reality for Turkey—especially in terms of how Russia and Turkey are “commercially locked into mutual interdependence that makes conflicts very costly.”

The rhetorical question then is, “Why NATO and why various allies continue to provide Ukraine with unprecedented levels of support when it is not covered under the security guarantee?

That is a no-brainer for some, as the terms “greed and proxy war” covers it all. But much more is involved, and too much depends on which think tank is in vogue for the week, or how the political winds are blowing, especially of late, when it comes to Turkey or any other NATO country supporting Ukraine membership in NATO or not?

I personally think by the time Ukraine is ready for NATO or NATO for Ukraine, it will not exist as a functioning state. With this in mind, and with a smile, it is unexpected to hear about all “NATO allies” who have agreed that Ukraine will become a member … the “main focus now”, according to the NATO Head, “is to how to ensure how Ukraine prevails but nobody can tell when and how this war ends. But what we do know is that when the war ends, Russia will not be able to attack and wage war again against Ukraine and to continue to chip away at European Security.”

Solidarity: When and How?

Optimistic statements and wishful thinking of victory, as if it is a self-fulfilling prophesy, for a fledging albeit highly corrupt Ukraine is not enough. It is an understatement that the EU and NATO are reconsidering their promises for Ukraine to be fast tracked into NATO.

Nonetheless, it was more a knee jerk reaction when the EU was quick to offer “Ukraine a path to membership” and as the NYTs described it – “leaders were under pressure to show solidarity …. “  But closing ranks comes with unanticipated consequences, “egg-in-the-face”, now that the true nature of Ukraine and its “less than truthful leadership” and “more than corrupt government” is becoming better known to the West.

Even the most recent rhetoric, NATO chief: ‘Allies agree Ukraine will become a member, is both misleading and false.  Zelenskiy should remember Georgia’s contribution to NATO foreign wars, how many of its soldiers died in Afghanistan, as it was trying to bleed its way into NATO.

He said it was “time for the military alliance to offer his country membership and that Kyiv needed more weapons to fight Russia during the meeting of the Ukraine defense contact group at the Ramstein air base in Germany. But aside from Zelenskiy being invited to NATO meetings, that Kyiv wants more — that is, full NATO membership.

It should come as no surprise that not all are listening to NATO, Kiev and their rhetoric, and have not been for quite some time; France is taking its own new direction and dropping out of ranks—looking towards China for a solution to the crisis in Ukraine among other things. Sweden is having second thoughts with massive protests in several cities as to its potential membership, breaking news as I am finishing this commentary.

Placards and banners with messages such as “No to NATO”, “NATO’s war will get our children killed for a dollar,” and “Stop Aurora 23” — referring to an ongoing military exercise with 26,000 participants mainly from NATO member states currently hosted by Sweden — were seen as the protesters moved through the city.

Even Finland is starting to question its new club, and “now what”, with its NATO membership.  But first it must get beyond NATO promises and when the morning comes, it may wake up to find out how  Grocho Marks, the American-Jewish Comedian was so right about club membership with the timely quote for today’s reality. “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

But why is Hungary, the country that once had so much distain for the USSR and anything Russia, is blocking Ukraine’s NATO accession? Much of it has to do with human rights and being able to see the BIGGER picture of things, according to its MFA.

The recent Headlines, Orbán throws cold water on Ukraine’s NATO hopes: Budapest’s relationship with Kyiv takes another nosedive, should come as no surprise to anyone, especially Ukraine.  It should be an expert itself when it comes to human rights, and rights of ethnic and language minorities, as it has absolute advantage in violating them.

And this does not only apply to Russian and Hungarian languages, as others are affected too, as “collateral damage” – and include Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish. The kin-states of these respective minorities all protested against the new language regime, while several international organizations also raised their voices against the new legislations, including the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission

Institutional Memory

BTY, the same military base in Germany that has been organizing smuggling NATO weapons to Ukraine for years and is where NATO has been having its recent meetings about Ukraine. Many of the weapons were coming from Afghanistan and from countries of other NATO operations, such as Libya – which the US Embassy had set up as a US style gun flea market—cash and carry!

Other German bases and depots involved include, but are not limited to, Baumholder army base, which is a weapons depot, and the Bitburg Airport (a former US military base) and the Spangdalem Air Base. There are even allegations from locals, which I contacted back in 2017, in Germany that another base is involved, Büchel Air Base.

It is hard to fathom how Ukraine can lack most of the weapons it now demands in tandem with NATO-EU membership, as it wants to dictate terms and conditions. But those who have been following weapons trafficking know very well where many of these weapons ended up, starting with Syria and ending with Georgia and Africa, and a long list of other end users—too many to list.

And even more recently, with documentaries and other revelations from Seymour Hersch detailing the rat line of weapons making the way into the black market. Western-supplied arms are being sold by Ukrainian commanders to smugglers in Poland, Romania and other states, a veteran American journalist now claims.

And we must not forget the Odessa-Batumi Ratline that supplied ISIS in Syria, and the one from Libya too – and we know the rest of that story. Aside from asking for more conventional weapons, Ukrainian leadership will next be demanding their foreign bank accounts and fuel tanks on their cruise vessels are topped up too!

Nothing should surprise you about the collective rules-based West, as who is planning, sending and receiving, and profiting it’s the usual suspects as always. I guess they will soon be demanding Polish and Romanian cannon fodder, as NATO planners have an offensive planned.

The Zelensky regime, and those that have gone before, know how to skim money from USAID, DOD, NATO, the UN, you name the charity, and don’t forget about Crowd Funding.

Not Really Complicated

In layman’s terms, it is not all that complicated. All well and true, all well and good, at least on the surface about the nexus between NATO and the USA, but the reality is there is good reason why government overseers are not tracking the deliveries of weapons and money to Ukraine. There was even a failed attempt to set up an Inspector General for this very purpose. That is why they have no idea what’s happening with all this—and where the weapons and money are disappearing to. They just send it and everybody is happy. Just like that—it vanishes into thin air

Democrats are so naive. But the promises and more promises about Ukraine becoming a member of NATO is just as ridiculous, as a fairytale. The same conclusion can be made when discussing EU membership.

By the way, so far, what has NATO done for Ukraine? NATO, even before the war, started assisting on a massive scale with money, weapons and advice. The cold hearted conclusion is this has more to do with a massive scale of weapon trafficking, more is to come, on a greater scale, and in my opinion, both sides are packing their fat wallets full. Meantime, soldiers and the innocent are dying, and the policy is proving until the last Ukrainian ….

And when all else fails, there is always the IMF for another bailout and some structural adjustment for what may soon be both a rump and a

failed state at the same time. Let’s review a bit about weapons, as it gets really interesting, and this has gone off the radar in recent years, especially from a Georgian perspective.

Georgia and Location Theory

Not to forget about the Georgian Legion, its sponsors and where many of its US paid mercenaries ended up in recent days in the next life. The Russian Defence Ministry claims up to 60 members of the ‘Georgian Legion’ were killed in an Iskander missile strike in a Ukrainian-held town.

The country of Georgia, its strategic position, wars and rumour of wars on all sides, the role seemingly chosen for Georgia may put that nation into a category of its own, neither a simple rogue nation nor a total police state dictatorship, not yet anyway.  But Georgia is a clear and present danger to the safety of the region, and with that, the entire world as well, especially because of its location.

Bel Trading and Consulting is a Ukrainian company based in the Seychelles that uses Georgia for weapons trafficking. It was one of the companies that were allegedly tied to Viktor Bout, but we know now that claim was a red herring – it is really tied to the US-Georgia-Ukrainian Ratline used to provide weapons to terrorists and others.

Furthermore, Bel is tied into the illegal weapons trade involving Ukraine, Georgia and the United States as a matter of known policy, and this is where many of the weapons and funds for so-called freedom fighters in Syria came from and is still in business, supplying other hotspots. The documents used to send them bear the same signatures as other shipments which I helped to investigate many years ago, tied in with the former governor of Odessa, Mikhail Saakashvili, who now serves a prison sentence as a high profile Georgian convict.

There are several common names in the documents, for instance, Georgian Deputy Defence Minister Mamuka Muriri, and Arkadii Almendiev, who is from Bel Trading and Consulting. Some of this information can be found on US Embassy Cable 09STATE79547, and previous NEO articles.

Not only Seymour Hersh and the West know that weapons intended for Ukraine are leaking in mass to black market outlets– far away conflicts, and throughout Africa as well. That may explain lots of things, and why Ukraine and Georgia will have to wait for NATO membership—and a very long wait at that.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

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