Tag Archives: Germany

‘Super Sunday’ Regional Elections in Germany to Test Merkel’s Coalition

Three German regions will vote on Sunday in parliamentary elections that are widely seen as a test for Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ruling coalition ahead of the next year’s general election.

A total of 13 million voters will cast their ballots in the western states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as in Saxony-Anhalt in the east. The “Super Sunday” will take place in an atmosphere of concern over Merkel’s open-arms policy on refugees.

The arrival of over a million of migrants at the German border last year looks likely to make it a single-issue election and cost the Conservatives and their coalition partners in the Social Democratic camp votes, the recent opinion polls have shown.

The upcoming vote will be the first opportunity for Germans to deliver their verdict on how the government has been handling the migrant crisis since the chancellor threw the doors open to war refugees coming to Europe from Syria last summer.

The fiercely anti-EU, anti-migrant Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party has meanwhile been making gains all across the country. The populist party has seats in five of the 16 regional legislatures and looks set to grab more in the three regions, where it can win between 10-18 percent of votes.

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German govt accused of lying to parliament about NSA spying

A general view shows an entrance gate in the north part of the compound of the German Federal Intelligence Agency

A general view shows an entrance gate in the north part of the compound of the German Federal Intelligence Agency

Angela Merkel’s government has been accused of lying to the country’s parliament after it was alleged that it knew German spies were conducting economic espionage for the NSA. Revelations show that some spooks were even spying on German companies.

Germany’s interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, who is a close ally of Chancellor Merkel denied on Wednesday that he had lied to parliament about the German Intelligence Agency (BND) cooperating with the National Security Agency (NSA). He said that the allegations are untrue and he could disprove the claims through documents, which need to remain secret.

Bild newspaper ran a report Wednesday saying that he had been “lying in black and white” with regards to the case; a picture of the minister with Pinnochio’s long nose was used to convey the message.

“I do follow the rules,” Maiziere said in a statement Wednesday. “That’s my understanding about the treatment of top secret information. It is in my own interest to clear these accusations up. They are not true and the documents would show that.”

On April 14, the Interior Ministry had released a statement saying: “We have no knowledge of alleged economic espionage by the NSA or other US agencies in other countries,” in response to a question from the opposition Linke (Left Party).

However, last week it emerged that the NSA had asked Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, to obtain sensitive records, such as email and IP addresses as well as telephone numbers to help the American agency spy on certain European companies.

Eurocopter, the French government and the defense firm EADS allegedly were among the company’s targets, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have been left in the dark about the BND’s activities.

The equivalent would have been if Germany had asked the NSA to spy on NASA or Boeing, requesting that no information about the matter be passed Barack Obama, to ensure no damage would be done to the relationship between the two countries.

Several times a day, the BND reportedly downloaded the NSA selectors into their monitoring system and used them to spy on targets. The results were sent to the German agency’s headquarters in Pullach for evaluation, and then, to some extent, to the NSA, Spiegel Online revealed, adding that the NSA sent about 800,000 ‘selectors’ to the BND in total.

Since at least 2008, BND employees felt they were being asked to perform tasks they did not have the authorization to carry out, as they were not covered by the 2002 Memorandum of Agreement between Germany and the US, aimed at combating global terrorism, the magazine said.

It wasn’t until 2013, in the midst of the Edward Snowden revelations, that an investigation into the spying activities took place. The probe revealed that 2,000 of the selectors actually violated German and Western European interests, with many used to spy on politicians.

However, the revelations were not reported to the Chancellor’s Office, according to Zeit Online. Instead, one of the BND’s department chiefs simply asked the NSA to stop making such requests.

Konstantin von Notz, deputy parliamentary leaders of the Greens, told Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper that he found it “hard to imagine” that the Chancellor’s Office was unaware of the collaboration between the two spy agencies.

“The limit has now been exceeded. The chancellor must explain the situation,” he added.

Left Party leader Gregor Gysi has called the collaboration a “scandal” and demanded an end to “conformism with the US administration,” Deutsche Welle reported

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On Centenary of World War I, Europe Sees Modern Parallels

Members of historical societies stood under a shower of a million poppies, representing those killed in World War I, at a ceremony Monday at the Tank Museum in Bovington, England.

Members of historical societies stood under a shower of a million poppies, representing those killed in World War I, at a ceremony Monday at the Tank Museum in Bovington, England.

LONDON — With a dimming of the lights and ceremonies across this country and in Belgium, monarchs, princes, presidents and citizens commemorated on Monday the day 100 years ago when Britain entered World War I at the start of four years of carnage once called the war to end all wars.

Some took the moment to recall more modern crises in the Middle East and Europe that are rooted in the fighting between 1914 and 1918 that toppled empires and redrew the world map. Some dwelled on a vision of reconciliation among former foes.

“We were enemies more than once in the last century, and today we are friends and allies,” Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, told a ceremony in Belgium, referring to Germany and its allies in two world wars. At Westminster Abbey, prayers were said in English and German.

But today’s myriad wars haunted the commemorations, too.

“How can we remain neutral today when a people not far from Europe is fighting for their rights?” President François Hollande of France said in Belgium. “How can we remain neutral when a civilian airliner is brought down, when there is conflict in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza?”

A century ago, as hostilities loomed, Sir Edward Grey, the British foreign secretary, famously remarked, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

To echo those words, Prime Minister David Cameron urged Britons to extinguish the lights in their homes at 10 p.m. on Monday to leave a lone light or candle burning by 11 p.m. — the precise moment of the declaration of war on Germany.

In London, the lights went off at such landmarks as the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge over the River Thames. At Westminster Abbey, at a late-night ceremony attended by political leaders, a lone oil lamp at the tomb of the unknown soldier was extinguished at 11 p.m. by the Duchess of Cornwall, the former Camilla Parker-Bowles and wife of Prince Charles, the heir to the throne.

The fighting a century ago erupted after a series of interlocked events beginning with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, on June 28, 1914 — killings that set off a chain of events, driven by a complex web of alliances, that historians have described as Europe’s stumbling or sleepwalking into a cataclysmic conflict.

“Most were stumbling into the darkness, increasingly bound by the chains of their own and others’ making, their hope of avoiding war ever fading,” the Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, the dean of Westminster Abbey, said in a foreword to the order of service on Monday.

Many in Britain and elsewhere expected a quick end to the hostilities. But the war soon bogged down in trench warfare that consumed the energies and resources of nations at the cost of millions of lives.

Neutral at the beginning, the United States formally joined the war in 1917.

The writer H. G. Wells is often credited with coining the description of the conflict as “the war that will end war,” the title of an essay that became a jingoistic catchphrase, “the war to end all wars.”

As the conflict drew to a close, a more cynical view overtook that sentiment when David Lloyd George, the British prime minister at the time, is said to have remarked: “This war, like the next war, is a war to end war.”

The approach of the conflict in 1914 was commemorated on Sunday when Mr. Hollande and President Joachim Gauck of Germany embraced at a war memorial in the eastern French province of Alsace, near the frequently contested frontier between their nations. The occasion commemorated Germany’s declaration of war on France on Aug. 3, 1914, as German troops massed to invade neutral Belgium — the incursion that drew Britain into the war a day later.

No formal ceremonies were planned in Berlin, with German commemorations focused on Mr. Gauck’s attendance at ceremonies in lands once conquered by German soldiers. In Russia, President Vladimir V. Putin inaugurated a memorial in Moscow last week, and a museum is to open in St. Petersburg.

The scale of commemoration in Russia was unusual. Moscow usually focuses most of its commemorative efforts on World War II.

 NYTimes.com.

‘Unprecedented ’: 13 aircraft mysteriously disappear from radars in heart of Europe

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A total of 13 aircraft suddenly vanished off radars for about 25 minutes on two occasions over Austria and neighboring countries, Austria’s flight safety monitor said, calling for an EU probe into the “unprecedented” incidents.

The flights vanished from air traffic controllers’ screens in Austria on June 5 and June 10 for 25 minutes each time, Marcus Pohanka of Austro Control – Austria’s flight safety organization – said Thursday.

Air traffic control in neighboring regions of Germany and the Czech Republic also reported similar problems.

Pohanka said the location, height, and identity of the 13 aircraft vanished over Austria both times, in what he called “unprecedented” incidents, AP reported.

He added that some neighboring countries had experienced similar problems. The daily Kurier, based in Vienna, elaborated that similar problems were experienced by flight controllers in Munich and Karlsruhe in Germany and in Prague, Czech Republic.

Poahanka declined to say which airlines and planes were involved, but suggested that some may have been passenger jets, which fly at high altitudes. The EU’s Eurocontrol and European Aviation Safety Agency will investigate the incidents.

Poahanka stressed that at no time were any of the planes in danger, as extra air traffic controllers were immediately called to their posts and emergency measures were brought in, which included immediately establishing voice contact with the pilots and the widening of flight corridors.

The Kurier cited an unnamed expert as saying that the problem was most likely to do with interference between the aircraft transponders and the ground.

Pro-Russian Forces in Ukraine Free One of 8 Detainees – NYTimes

A group of European military observers, detained since Friday, appeared before journalists in a news conference in Slovyansk on Sunday.

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — The self-appointed mayor of this breakaway city in eastern Ukraine on Sunday displayed eight detained members of a European military observer mission and later released one for health reasons, but otherwise refused to discuss conditions under which the others might go free beyond mentioning a possible prisoner exchange.

In an afternoon of political theater, the de facto public authority here, Vyachislav Ponomaryov, had the detainees led into an auditorium by masked gunmen.

The observers, whom Mr. Ponomaryov has branded as spies, were escorted to seats once used by the city’s administrators. He then yielded the floor to the German officer leading the observers, Col. Axel Schneider, who held a long question-and-answer session with journalists.With erect posture, the colonel began by referring to himself and his team as “guests” under Mr. Ponomaryov’s “protection,” and said the team had suffered no violence at its captors’ hands since being seized on Friday.“We are not prisoners of war,” he said.

But the clearly coercive nature of the display here held the truth of the matter, which Colonel Schneider nodded to toward the end of the conference, saying, “I cannot go home on my free decision.”

He said the observers were performing a diplomatically accredited inspection in a rented bus when they were stopped at a checkpoint about two miles south of Slovyansk, the stronghold of the anti-Kiev armed militias in eastern Ukraine.

The team was held in a basement for one day and then moved on Saturday to better quarters, he said. The observer mission included seven military officers — three from Germany and one each from Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and Sweden — and a German interpreter, along with five members of the Ukrainian military as escorts.

Colonel Schneider flatly rejected accusations that the observers were spies, and he dismissed claims that the team had carried ammunition and reconnaissance equipment.

His team’s mission, he said several times, had diplomatic status under the so-called Vienna Document 2011 of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which allows member nations to invite military observers from other member states to observe internal security conditions.

“I have no overlap with any other action executed in this region,” he said. “It is forbidden.”

The detention of the team has led to intensive diplomatic activity seeking their release.

Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, condemned what he called the “public display” of the mission members on Sunday, which he said “scandalously violates every rule and standard.” And he called on Russia to use its influence over the separatists in Ukraine to ensure all of the captives would be released unharmed. “It is Russia’s duty to influence the separatists so that they release the members of the O.S.C.E. mission as quickly as possible,” Mr. Steinmeier said in a statement.

Russia’s representative to the security organization has publicly said that the team should be freed.

But Mr. Ponomaryov, who referred to members of the team as “prisoners of the situation,” said he has heard nothing directly from Russia. He gave no timetable for any decisions, but insisted that the observers had been and would be treated well.

“We understand that these are officers before us,” he said. “And as we are also servicemen, we are required to abide by the officers’ code of honor.”

At another moment, Mr. Ponomaryov said the display was intended in part to reassure the observers’ families that the men were in good health. And later in the day, he released one of the observers — a Swedish officer with diabetes, Maj. Thomas Johansson — for health reasons, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Ponomaryov. (At the end of the conference, Major Johansson noted that he was not ill and had access to medicine during his captivity.)

As the news conference continued, Colonel Schneider gradually expanded on his descriptions of the teams’ circumstances, making clear that its members were detainees.

“Our presence here in Slovyansk is for sure a political instrument for the decision-makers here in the region, and the possibility to use it for negotiations,” he said. “And this is not a surprise.”

He added, “It is logical in the eyes of Mayor Ponomaryov that he can use us to present his positions.”

The antigovernment militias here and their supporters, who seek a referendum that will allow them self-rule, have noted that the interim authorities in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, have arrested activists or officials on the antigovernment side.

But they have yet to make specific demands for any exchange, beyond Mr. Ponomaryov’s pointing out on Saturday that his own deputy has disappeared and could be in government custody.

The United States has opposed any exchange, and said the detainees should be freed unconditionally.

On Sunday, Mr. Ponomaryov, who was positioned two seats to the colonel’s right, occasionally checking a ringing cellphone, refused to answer questions about a resolution. He did reconfirm that he would consider a prisoner exchange.

When asked by journalists if he thought of the observers as human shields, he said he did not.

“This is nonsense,” he said. “Nonsense. If I gave the word that these people will remain safe, and I provide them capable security, then believe me, I will keep my word.”

Less clear was the status and prospects of five members of the Ukrainian military who had accompanied the observer team.

Colonel Schneider, and then later Major Johansson, said four of these Ukrainians had been held on the first day with the European team, but only two of them were moved with the European officers on Saturday. The conditions and whereabouts of the other three were unknown.

As the back-and-forth inside the sandbagged city administration building continued, a white sport utility vehicle bearing the markings of the O.S.C.E. pulled up outside. Several diplomats stepped out and were escorted into another section of the building by a gunman wearing a black mask.

Mr. Ponomaryov noted that the observers’ release would have to be discussed with diplomats.

“So that these officers feel certain — I told my guests, and I repeat it again — the conditions of their release will be specified with representatives of the O.S.C.E.,” he said. “It will be a separate topic.”

Several minutes after the diplomats arrived, Mr. Ponomaryov abruptly cut short the session and ordered journalists to leave, at one point shouting, “One! Two!” and preparing to shout “Three!” as if trying to compel disobedient children to comply.

The gunmen behind the sandbags led the journalists out into the bright afternoon light of the city’s main public square. There, behind a massive statue of Lenin, a Russian television journalist playfully petted a saddled pony as masked men came and went.

via Pro-Russian Forces in Ukraine Free One of 8 Detainees – NYTimes.com.

 

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Germany’s economic associations alarmed over situation in Ukraine

The German economy fears immediate sanctions against Russia, which may lead to “severe economic consequences in eastern Ukraine

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BERLIN, April 16. ITAR-TASS.

Germany’s leading economic associations fear the consequences of the events in Ukraine, says Germany’s largest business and finance daily, Handelsblatt.

Executive director of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Rainer Lindner “has warned in this connection against imposing economic sanctions on Russia”, the paper reports.

“Latest developments in Ukraine’s east are alarming,” Lindner told Handelsblatt Online. “The German economy fears immediate sanctions against Russia”, which may lead to “severe economic consequences in eastern Ukraine”.

The expert said it was not possible currently to estimate damage from possible sanctions given that “their art and scope are not clear”. But German enterprises could already feel the negative impact of the current tense situation, he said.

“The committee… is still against economic sanctions and calls for a diplomatic solution, though it will certainly accept the decision of politicians,” Lindner added.

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‘World’s oldest message in a bottle’ reaches granddaughter

German fisher Konrad Fischer holding a message in a bottle from 1913 on the fishing cutter "Maria I" in Kiel, Germany.

German fisher Konrad Fischer holding a message in a bottle from 1913 on the fishing cutter “Maria I” in Kiel, Germany.

A message in a bottle tossed in the sea in Germany 101 years ago, believed to be the world’s oldest, has been presented to the sender’s granddaughter, a museum said Monday.

A fisherman pulled the beer bottle with the scribbled message out of the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel last month, Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg told AFP.

“This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact,” he said.

Researchers then set to work identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin.

“It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann told German news agency DPA.

She was first able to hold the brown bottle last week at the Hamburg museum.

Inside was a message on a postcard requesting the finder to return it to his home address in Berlin.

“That was a pretty moving moment,” Erdmann said. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”

Von Neuhoff said researchers were able to determine based on the address that it was 20-year-old baker’s son Richard Platz who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913.

A Berlin-based genealogical researcher then located Erdmann, who never knew Platz, her mother’s father who died in 1946 at the age of 54.

Von Neuhoff said a handwriting comparison with letters penned by Platz later in life confirmed that he was “without a doubt” the author.

Erdmann told local newspapers that the surprise discovery had inspired her to look through family scrapbooks to learn more about her grandfather, a Social Democrat who liked to read.

Much of the ink on the postcard has been rendered illegible with time and dampness, von Neuhoff said.

The discovery will be on display at the museum until May 1, after which experts will set to work trying to decipher the rest of the message.

The Guinness World Records had previously identified the oldest message in a bottle as dating from 1914. It spent nearly 98 years at sea before being fished from the water.

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US operates global drone war from German base – ex-pilot

A testimony by a former US Air Force drone pilot has revealed that the US is using its Ramstein Air Base in Germany to wage highly controversial drone warfare in Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan.

“The entire drone war of the US military wouldn’t be possible without Germany,” Brandon Bryant, who resigned in 2011, told NDR television and Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Last year, German media revealed that the US uses its military bases in Germany to conduct targeted killings of suspected terrorists in Somalia. But Bryant now says that Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate is involved in strikes on Pakistan and Yemen.

During his five years of service, Bryant flew more than 1,000 operations in Pakistan and Yemen. Although Bryant was seated at his control pad in New Mexico – far from the actual drones – there is mounting evidence that the base in Germany plays a key role.

Data from the remote controlled drones is transmitted via satellite to Germany. It is then sent back to America via fiber optic cable. Live pictures are analyzed and classified by teams of US intelligence officers in Germany, suggesting Ramstein is the nerve center behind the operations.

Bryant said that Ramstein was always “the first port of call” during any strike.

Supporters of Pakistan’s outlawed Islamic hardline Jamaat ud Dawa (JD) carry placards as they shout anti-US slogans during a protest against the US drone strikes in the Pakistani tribal region, in Islamabad on November 8, 2013.

Polls show that the majority of Germans have consistently disapproved of drone strikes, saying they are secretive, do not follow a legal process, and can prove ineffective if the wrong targets are eliminated.

Aware of these concerns, the United States – which has a military presence in the country guaranteed by post-WWII agreements – has denied that its German base, which houses over 600 personnel, is directly involved in the strikes.

“The US government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from US bases in Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters on Friday.

In total, up to 900 people may have been killed in Yemen since strikes began in 2002. More than 3,700 people have died in Pakistan since 2004. The figures were collated on the basis of reports by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent online news source, as the CIA and the Pentagon do not reveal official figures.

In the wake of the revelation, foreign policy spokesperson for the Greens party, Omid Nouripour, urged Angela Merkel’s government to take action. “It is shameful that the German government simply closes its eyes to violations of international law on German territory,” Nouripour told DPA news agency.

While the new revelations may put further strain on the relationship between Washington and Berlin – which is already tense due to Edward Snowden‘s leaks about NSA surveillance – they are unlikely to lead to specific measures from Germany.

Berlin cannot freely inspect – much less close down – US bases without pulling out of key military cooperation agreements.

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From Merkel to Tymoshenko : NSA spied on 122 world leaders, Snowden docs reveal

The NSA’s data base contains information obtained during the surveillance of over a hundred world leaders, new leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed.

Der Spiegel has looked through a top secret presentation by NSA’s Center for Content Extraction, which is responsible for automated analysis of all types of text data.

According to the document, the leaders of 122 states were among the high-ranked targets of the US intelligence.

However, only 12 names were revealed by the German journalists in the publication as an example.

With the heads of state arranged alphabetically by first name, the list begins with ‘A’ as in Abdullah Badawi, the former Malaysian prime minister.

He’s followed by Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who appears so high due to being mentioned under his alias, Abu Mazin.

The catalogue of world leaders under surveillance goes on with the heads of Peru, Somalia, Guatemala and Colombia right up to Aleksander Lukashenko of Belarus.

The list is completed by Yulia Tymoshenko at No.122, who used to be Ukrainian prime minister from February-September 2005 and from December 2007 till March 2010.

Merkel appears on the document between former Mali president, Amadou Toumani Toure, and Syrian leader, Bashar Assad.

The document indicates that the German chancellor has been included in the so-called Target Knowledge Database (TKB), which includes “complete profiles” of the individuals under surveillance.

The automated name recognition system, Nymrod, which deals with transcripts of intercepted fax, voice and computer-to-computer communications, has provided around 300 citations for Merkel alone, Der Spiegel wrote.

The authors of the NSA presentation especially stressed the effectiveness of the automated capture, with manual maintenance of high-ranking targets database being “a slow and painstaking process”.

Der Spiegel were also shown a weekly report from the Special Sources Operations (SSO) division, which proves that the NSA had received a court order to spy on Merkel.

According to the paper, FISA, the special court responsible for intelligence agency requests, provided the NSA with authorization to monitor “Germany” on March 7, 2013.

The new Snowden leaks are significant for Germany as they prove that Chancellor Merkel was an official target for surveillance by the US.

The office of German Federal Public Prosecutor, Harald Range, still hasn’t made up its mind over suing the National Security Agency.

The allegations that the NSA monitored Merkel’s mobile phone and conducted mass surveillance on the communications of millions of Germans are currently under review by the prosecutors.

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​Ukrainian inspectors in Russia look for undeclared deployment of troops

An armored vehicle during an exercise held by the Baltic Fleet coastal defense troops at the Pavenkovo training ground in the Kaliningrad region.

A Ukrainian national team of inspectors is to monitor a suspected buildup of troops in the west of Russia. It’s the third visit of its kind in March and the last that can be conducted in 2014 under Russian international obligations.

The four-member Ukrainian team will be traveling by car across an area of about 13sq km in Belgorod and Kursk Regions along Russia-Ukrainian border to ensure that Russia is not performing any undeclared deployment of troops there. The inspectors will also perform a helicopter flyover of the area, reported Sergey Ryzhkov, head of the Russian national center for reduction of nuclear threat.

The two-day visit is being conducted under the so-called Vienna document, an international treaty for members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The treaty is meant to build up trust among the members through a mechanism of voluntary declaration of deployment of troops and international inspections to verify those declarations.

“This is the last inspection event in the territory of the Russian Federation to be performed in 2014 in the framework of the Vienna document, because the quota for inspections in our territory by OSCE members has been depleted,” Ryzhkov said.

The Vienna document mechanism has been in force since 1990 and has last been updated in November 2011. A total of 56 nations are participating in the mechanism. The document allows up to three annual verification inspections, no two of which may be conducted by the same state.

Previously in 2014 Russia has hosted an observation mission from Latvia and Germany between March 1 and 3, and a mission from Switzerland and Finland between March 2 and 3, according to a statement made by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov last Wednesday. Neither delegation voiced claimed any violations on the part of Russia.

The ongoing Ukrainian inspection is carried out amid speculation in some Ukrainian media that Russia is building up its military in the west for a possible invasion of Ukraine. Moscow dismisses such reports as false.

Russia is participating in other trust-building mechanisms, which provide for foreign inspection of its military. Those include US inspections of Russian nuclear facilities under the New START treaty, which came into force in 2011 and sets a limit on a number of nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia are allowed to deploy.

Another inspection mechanism works under the Treaty on Open Skies, effective since 2002, which provides for observation flights by participants over each other’s territory. The latest such flight over Russia was conducted on March 17 by a joint mission from Germany and the US.

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