BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – The German news magazine “Der Spiegel” reported in its latest edition that the German chancellery is accusing NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, of making “dangerous propaganda.” According to the German government, Breedlove is completely exaggerating Russia’s military activities in Eastern Ukraine. He claims having detected Russian military equipment, including tanks and air defense systems in Ukraine. Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND, however, could neither detect these in their own satellite imagery nor acquire adequate information from its allied US intelligence services. Breedlove has also completely exaggerated the number of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border. However, the German government has also repeatedly used this type of propaganda, for example during the aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999. The German government’s criticism of Breedlove, reported by “Der Spiegel,” reflects the strategic differences between Washington and Berlin. Germany’s “dual strategy” approach toward Russia, taken from the West’s cold war strategy, is incompatible with the policy of unbridled aggression, championed by the war hawk wing of the US establishment. Breedlove, who is now being criticized by Germany, is a representative of this group.
The Chancelleries Accusations
The German chancellery is accusing NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, of making “dangerous propaganda,” as the German news magazine “Der Spiegel” reported in its latest edition. According to the article, Breedlove is completely exaggerating Russia’s military activities in Eastern Ukraine. Berlin has been internally voicing this criticism since some time, which is also shared by other NATO-members. At an internal meeting last week, ambassadors of several NATO countries sharply criticized the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) for his public appearances.
Based on information obtained in German government circles, “Der Spiegel” gives several examples of Breedlove’s assertions, which obviously contradict reality. In late March 2014, the top NATO European commander declared, Russia had amassed 40,000 soldiers at the Ukrainian border ready to attack. Intelligence services of other NATO countries, however, reported a considerably lower number of Russian soldiers and that nothing about their composition pointed toward aggressive intentions. OSCE information in November 2014, to the effect that combat troops and tanks of unknown origin were moving around in Eastern Ukraine, was interpreted by Breedlove as a border-crossing movement of Russian troops, without providing any proof. According to “Der Spiegel,” NATO’s European commander’s allegations made soon thereafter alleging a presence of Russian tanks and air defense systems in Ukraine have been confirmed neither by the German intelligence services’ own satellite data nor by information from its allied US intelligence services. The same applies to Breedlove’s most recent statements alleging the presence of Russian combat troops, artillery battalions and more than 1000 combat vehicles on Ukrainian territory. These allegations seem purely fictitious.
German War Propaganda
Berlin’s complaints of Breedlove’s propaganda, throwing a spotlight on NATO and its member countries’ credibility, should not be misunderstood as a rejection in principle of political propaganda. German governments have repeatedly faked allegations to justify political and military aggression. The 1999 aggression against Yugoslavia is a prime example. Just before NATO’s attack, the German government dramatized an alleged “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia’s Kosovo province – in open contradiction to OSCE findings and those of experts within its own defense ministry. The “ethnic cleansing” allegation was used to justify aggression against Yugoslavia, which was launched March 24, 1999. Other important German milestones in legitimizing the use of force had been suspicious from the outset, for example the allegation that the “Račak massacre,” in mid January 1999, had been an execution of defenseless civilians by Yugoslav government units. There was absolutely no proof for the alleged Serbian “Operation Horseshoe” to expel Kosovo Albanians, which had been used by the German government in the spring 1999 to justify NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia. (german-foreign-policy.com reported ).
Similar reports are still being propagated. This not only includes Breedlove’s new allegation, “the Kremlin” has now “moved more than 1000 combat vehicles, air defense and artillery into the secessionist areas of East Ukraine,” a claim Berlin has exposed as purely fictitious. In the middle of last week, quoting USAEUR Commander Gen. Ben Hodges, it was reported that Russia was supporting “the separatists in East Ukraine” with nearly 12,000 soldiers. “Another 50,000 Russian soldiers” are being held in reserve for the case that the separatists “suffer a serious defeat and the Ukrainian Army gets the upper hand,” also without verifiable evidence. Still these allegations are being propagated further at face value, even though they are liable to lay the groundwork for further escalation of tensions between NATO and Russia. An eventual change of course for the German media in the aftermath of the latest “Spiegel” revelations is yet to be noticed.