Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

CSTO – a NATO for the East?

Global Research | Feb 9, 2009

csto_logoThe members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation – Russia and six neighbouring states – have agreed to set up a collective rapid reaction force to combat terrorism, military aggression, and drug trafficking.

The decision was made during a CSTO summit in Moscow, attended by the leaders and foreign ministers of the member-states: Russia, Belarus and five countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia – Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, the current chair of the group, said the decision was momentous.

“I would like to emphasise the importance of this decision to establish rapid reaction forces. It’s aimed at strengthening the military capacity of our organisation.”

Speaking at a media conference, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the new units “will not be less powerful than those of NATO”.

He said: “the reason behind the creation of the collective forces of operative functioning is a considerable conflict potential which is accumulating in the CSTO zone”.

Medvedev added that the force “should become an effective tool which would maintain security in the region”.

Up to now, the organisation has positioned itself as an important political and military alliance in the post-Soviet space. But other countries haven’t perceived it as such.

In theory, the CSTO already has a collective force. But it doesn’t have a common command structure. Nor does it have a permanent home.

However, the decision to create a truly collective force with a permanent location and a united command would propel the alliance to a new level.

Earlier, Russian presidential aide Sergey Prikhodko said the new unit “might be used to rebuff military aggression, conduct special operations against international terrorism and violent manifestations of extremism, transnational organised crime and drugs trafficking, and also for the elimination of effects of natural and technogenic emergencies.”

Under existing arrangements, Prikhodko said, each CSTO member-state had its own rapid reaction force that could be committed to action in case of the emergence of common threats.

The global financial crisis was also talked about. Russia and four neighboring countries – allied in the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc) – decided to give each other a helping hand to cope with the credit crunch.

“We’re creating a fund of $10 billion. It will be like an air bag for those states whose situation becomes critical,” commented Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

This show of unity comes as Kyrgyzstan confirmed its decision to end the lease of the Manas air base by the U.S. military. Since 2001 it provided backup support for NATO troops in Afghanistan.

But the once-warm welcome has chilled after incidents between locals and military personnel. There have been reports of fights with the local population.

In one incident two women were run over in the capital Bishkek by a vehicle driven by a U.S. serviceman. In another, a Kyrgyz citizen was shot dead by an American soldier who escaped prosecution due to immunity enjoyed by the U.S. military at the base.

Now Kyrgyzstan says the Americans have six months to pack up and leave.

”According to the terms of the agreement American soldiers have 180 days to fully withdraw from the base. The count begins from the moment we exchange formal documents with the U.S.,” Kyrgyzstan’s Security Council chairman Adakhan Madumarov said.

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Swedes approved secret Nazi loan

The Local | Feb 9, 2009

Ernst Wigforss. (Encyclopedia "Sveriges styresmän 1937")

Ernst Wigforss. (Encyclopedia "Sveriges styresmän 1937")

New documents have emerged that Swedish finance minister, Ernst Wigforss, approved secret Swedish bank credits to Nazi Germany in 1941. The documents were recently uncovered in a filing cabinet at the finance ministry.

Historian and ambassador Krister Wahlbäck and cabinet office archivist Bo Hammarlund reveal the existence of the documents, which indicate Wigforss’ approval of loans to Hitler’s Germany, in a full page debate article in Dagens Nyheter on Sunday.

The loans served to increase Swedish exports to Nazi Germany, of far greater importance, the pair argue, than opening the country’s borders and train lines for the use of German troop movements – against which Wigforss was a renowned opponent.

Ernst Wigforss, who died 30 years ago, retains a revered place in the hearts of many in the Social Democratic party and is argued by Wahlbäck and Hammarlund to fulfil the role of the party’s “socialist conscience”.

Wigforss was vocal in his criticism of the prime minister and Social Democrat party leader, Per Albin Hansson, for allowing the German Division Engelbrecht transit through Sweden, assisting the Nazi invasion of Norway.

The new document is a letter received by Wigforss in April 1941 and undersigned by the director of Skandinaviska Banken, Ernst Herslow. The document was never entered into the official record.

The letter summarized a conversation between Wigforss and Jacob Wallenberg earlier in the day. The conversation concerned the approval of bank credits to Germany to enable them to pay Swedish shipbuilders for services rendered. For this the bank required state approval.

“The minister expressed his understanding, that it would be desirable for the credits to be provided,” Herslow wrote.

Wahlbäck and Hammarlund write that such a decision would most likely have been shared with the cabinet but, they point out, no note has been made of the issue by any other minister.

The diary of the then head of the Riskbank, Ivar Rooth, however indicates that the both he and the Swedish foreign office (UD) held strong reservations over the bank credits which would enable Germany to supply less goods in return to Sweden for iron ore and other materials crucial to the war effort.

The loans amounted to around 40 million kronor, a large sum of money in those days, Wahlbäck and Hammarlund write.

They continue to argue that the credits provided in April 1941 were the first breach in Swedish resistance to Nazi Germany’s demands. The credits, it is noted, appear to have been given in the face of the minimum of coercion.

The result of the approval of the bank credits meant that Sweden avoided demands from Germany for direct Swedish state aid and that Swedish boat yards could continue to build vessels for Nazi Germany’s navy.

Instead of state credits, of the like that the Swedish state offered (but never provided) to Soviet Russia in the “Russian precedent” of 1940, the pair argue that Sweden instead provided something akin to state-sanctioned “export credit guarantees”.

Wahlbäck and Hammarlund conclude from the document find that there is more to be learned from Sweden’s actions during the war and the involvement of certain individuals in regard to dealings with Nazi Germany, the source of much irritation among the allied powers.