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US Veteran: Russia Not Bluffing and Has 'All Options on the Table' for Security Talks With US & NATO

© AFP 2023 / ALEXANDER NEMENOVThe Iskander ballistic missile launcher at a parade rehearsal. Grom-2 is ostensibly meant to compete with the Russian SRBM.
The Iskander ballistic missile launcher at a parade rehearsal. Grom-2 is ostensibly meant to compete with the Russian SRBM. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.01.2022
Tensions are rising ahead of Russia's negotiations with the US and NATO over its security proposals, according to Mark Sleboda, a US military veteran and international affairs and security analyst, who believes that the latest sudden outburst of violence in Kazakhstan is by no means a coincidence.
Violent protests erupted in Kazakhstan several days before the beginning of US-Russia and NATO-Russia Council (NRC) security talks. Member-states of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) have deployed troops in the country at the request Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek on Friday that Moscow regards violent developments in Kazakhstan as "externally provoked" and "aimed to disrupt its security and integrity".

Kazakh Riots Hardly a Coincidence

"I don't believe in the coincidence of the timing of the attempted armed insurrection in Kazakhstan that hijacked and used legitimate social protests for cover," says Mark Sleboda, a US military veteran and international affairs and security analyst. "The scale, scope, organisation and obvious planning all point to the likelihood of some degree of foreign direction and backing. It seems specifically timed to present Russia with the distraction of political instability on both ends, in bordering states both east and west, precisely when Russia is going into tense, high state security negotiations with the US and NATO."

However, if it was intended to weaken Russia's position going into talks with the US and NATO, it may "instead be viewed by the Kremlin as a further blatant geopolitical destabilising attack on Russia's interests and a regime change attempt at yet another Russian ally, impelling them to more drastic and decisive action than they might have taken otherwise," according to the security analyst.
Criminal fugitive Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, former chairman of Bank Turan Alem (BTA Bank), has called himself the leader of the protests. Sleboda notes that Ablyazov appeared on Ukrainian TV in the last few days openly calling for the overthrow of the government of Kazakhstan.
"If Ablyazov indeed had some rule in directing and carrying out this, then Ukrainian intelligence is almost certainly involved, and more than likely the Western backers of the Kiev regime as well," the security analyst believes.
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'How Ukraine is Being Turned Into a 'Forward NATO Outpost Directed Against Russia'

The US and NATO's role in destabilising the situation along Russia's borders also manifests itself in the ridiculously high number of NATO military troops on the ground in Ukraine, supposedly deployed as "trainers and advisers," according to Sleboda.
On 24 December, the Russian Foreign Ministry revealed that as many as 10,000 Western military instructors (including 4,000 Americans) have been permanently stationed in Ukraine to train the nation’s soldiers and support its fighting in Donbass.

"The US and NATO are using the protracted prospect of the Minsk Accords process that they pay only lip service to as cover, while de facto militarily NATO-izing Ukraine," the security analyst says, stressing that the US-NATO military presence Ukraine is in violation of the UNSC-approved Minsk II agreements. "Even without a formal offer of admittance to NATO and Membership Action Plan (MAP), Ukraine is quickly being turned into a forward NATO military outpost directed right at Russia."

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NATO's rules of non-acceptance of states having territorial disputes are unlikely to stop the bloc from trying to absorb Ukraine, and then Georgia and Moldova, according to the military veteran.
"It must be remembered that Portugal was brought into NATO despite being a military dictatorship up until the mid-1970's and Turkey and Hungary are not regarded as democratic states by most other members of NATO today. Expedience overrules," he says.
According to Sleboda, the large NATO military troops presence, along with British plans for the construction of naval military bases in Ukraine, and growing supplies of advanced military weapons to Kiev leave Russia with no other choice than to urgently demand that NATO stop its expansion and provide legally binding security guarantees.
"[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has recently spoken to the urgency of this national security threat on state television, 'We have nowhere to retreat,' noting that NATO could deploy missile systems in Ukraine that would take just four or five minutes to reach Moscow," Sleboda emphasises.
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'Russia is Not Bluffing About Military-Technical Response'

It appears that the US, the EU and NATO are not currently taking Russia's security proposals seriously, and describing them as "unacceptable", "impossible", "laughable", and "presumptuous," the security analyst remarks.
"As far as the Western political elite is concerned, Russia, as the legal successor to the legacy of the Soviet Union, is a defeated, weakened nation and must simply come to terms with the post-Cold War reality of NATO expansion to and US troops right on Russia's borders," Sleboda notes. "The other former states of the Soviet Union are to be dragged by hook or crook or colour revolution into NATO's embrace as it completes its goal of geopolitical consolidation eastwards."
The military veteran expects that the US will attempt to draw the talks out over months, and play for more time to continue "the de facto NATO-isation of Ukraine. However, Russia is well aware of such a scenario and appears to be prepared for it, according to Sleboda.
Previously, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made it clear that "the lack of progress towards a political-diplomatic solution to this problem will lead to the fact that we will respond militarily".
"Myself, I believe that the Kremlin is both hoping for the best and preparing for the worst when it comes to the US/NATO response," says Sleboda. "What exactly are those options? Russia is keeping this vague and tight to the chest, while insisting they are not bluffing."
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Thus, speaking to newspaper Vzglyad on 20 December, Russian journalist and military observer Igor Korotchenko suggested that Russia could theoretically deploy tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus – within the framework of bilateral allied obligations – if the transatlantic bloc proceeds with its eastward expansion. Earlier last month, Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei told the press that Minsk would consider stationing Russia's nuclear weapons if NATO deploys nuclear armaments in Poland.
For his part, Sleboda believes that the "technical-military response" could include the placement of new hypersonic missile systems in Kaliningrad, as well as a new permanent military posture with increased troop presence on Russia's western border, among other measures.
"Putin in his lengthy annual back and forth with journalists said the decision of what actions to take in such an eventuality would 'depend on what proposals our military experts submit to me'," the security analyst notes. "It does not seem that any final decision has been made yet, but that 'all options are on the table'."
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