China Making Some Missiles More Powerful

WASHINGTON — After decades of maintaining a minimal nuclear force,China has re-engineered many of its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple warheads, a step that federal officials and policy analysts say appears designed to give pause to the United States as it prepares to deploy more robust missile defenses in the Pacific.

What makes China’s decision particularly notable is that the technology of miniaturizing warheads and putting three or more atop a single missile has been in Chinese hands for decades. But a succession of Chinese leaders deliberately let it sit unused; they were not interested in getting into the kind of arms race that characterized the Cold War nuclear competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Now, however, President Xi Jinping appears to have altered course, at the same moment that he is building military airfields on disputed islands in the South China Sea, declaring exclusive Chinese “air defense identification zones,” sending Chinese submarines through the Persian Gulf for the first time and creating a powerful new arsenal of cyberweapons.

Many of those steps have taken American officials by surprise and have become evidence of the challenge the Obama administration faces in dealing with China, in particular after American intelligence agencies had predicted that Mr. Xi would focus on economic development and follow the path of his predecessor, who advocated the country’s “peaceful rise.”

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Beijing on Saturday to discuss a variety of security and economic issues of concern to the United States, although it remained unclear whether this development with the missiles, which officials describe as recent, was on his agenda.

American officials say that, so far, China has declined to engage in talks on the decision to begin deploying multiple nuclear warheads atop its ballistic missiles.

“The Chinese have been reluctant to have that discussion in official channels,” Mr. Saunders said, although he and other experts have engaged in unofficial conversations with their Chinese counterparts on the warhead issue

Beijing’s new nuclear program was reported deep inside the annual Pentagon report to Congress about Chinese military capabilities, disclosing a development that poses a dilemma for the Obama administration, which has never talked publicly about these Chinese nuclear advances.

President Obama is under more pressure than ever to deploy missile defense systems in the Pacific, although American policy officially states that those interceptors are to counter North Korea, not China. At the same time, the president is trying to find a way to signal that he will resist Chinese efforts to intimidate its neighbors, including some of Washington’s closest allies, and to keep the United States out of the Western Pacific.

Already, there is talk in the Pentagon of speeding up the missile defense effort and of sending military ships into international waters near the disputed islands, to make it clear that the United States will insist on free navigation even in areas that China is claiming as its exclusive zone.

To American officials, the Chinese move fits into a rapid transformation of their strategy under Mr. Xi, now considered one of the most powerful leaders since Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. Vivid photographs, which were released recently, of Chinese efforts to reclaim land on disputed islands in the South China Sea and immediately build airfields on them, underscored for White House policy makers and military planners the speed and intensity of Mr. Xi’s determination to push potential competitors out into the mid-Pacific.

That has involved building aircraft carriers and submarines to create an overall force that could pose a credible challenge to the United States in the event of a regional crisis. Some of China’s military modernization program has been aimed directly at America’s technological advantage. China has sought technologies to block American surveillance and communications satellites, and its major investments in cybertechnology — and probes and attacks on American computer networks — are viewed by American officials as a way to both steal intellectual property and prepare for future conflict.

Fonte: NyTimes

Egyptian Court Sentences Ousted President Morsi to Death

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced to death the deposed president,Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, along with more than 100 others, for fleeing prison during the 2011 revolt against President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr. Morsi’s conviction is the latest sign of the undoing of the uprising that overthrew Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Morsi, who was Egypt’s first freely elected leader, now faces the death penalty for escaping extralegal detention — a form of detention that many Egyptians hoped would be eliminated by the revolution.

If carried out, the sentence could make Mr. Morsi a martyr to millions of Islamists in Egypt and around the world. In a statement about the sentencing, Amr Darrag, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who was a cabinet minister under Mr. Morsi, said it was “one of the darkest days of Egyptian history” and a symbol “of the dark shadow of authoritarianism that is now cast back over Egypt.”

Judge Shaaban el-Shami issued the ruling in a courtroom in a converted auditorium on the grounds of a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo. Mr. Morsi, wearing a blue prison uniform, stood inside a metal and glass cage built in the courtroom. Some of his co-defendants, including other senior Brotherhood leaders, also appeared in the cage.

In a sonorous tone, the judge read a list, spanning three pages, of those sentenced to death. His pronouncement set off cries of “Allahu akbar!” (God is great) from the prisoners. As the session ended, the prisoners waved and chanted “Down with military rule!”

Before they can be carried out, the death sentences must be approved by Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim religious authority, the grand mufti, who is scheduled to make a ruling by June 2. The convictions are also subject to appeal through the court system.

Hours after the verdict was issued, three Egyptian judges were killed by gunmen on a bus in the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has been shaken by an upsurge in attacks by insurgents in Sinai since Mr. Morsi was deposed by the military in 2013. It was not immediately clear whether Saturday’s attack was connected to the verdict against Mr. Morsi.

The case against Mr. Morsi centers on a prison break that took place at the peak of the revolt against Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Morsi and other Brotherhood officials had been detained, taken from their homes or from street protests, along with many other Egyptians swept up in the turmoil. Mr. Morsi had been held for two days at Wadi Natroun prison, on the highway between Cairo and Alexandria.

The escape came on the night of Jan. 28, 2011, after a day of street battles between the police and protesters. In the chaos of the uprising, some of the guards at Wadi Natroun had abandoned their posts. Armed men overcame the prison’s remaining guards, freeing thousands of inmates, including Mr. Morsi and other Islamist leaders.

Mr. Morsi announced his escape in a call from a satellite phone to the news channel Al Jazeera. Neither before nor during his tenure as president did he face charges over the episode.

Among those sentenced to death on Saturday were about 70 Palestinians, including many tried in absentia. Prosecutors in the case alleged that armed Palestinians had freed inmates from Egyptian prisons after entering the country via tunnels from the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Also on Saturday, the judge sentenced 16 people to death in an espionage case in which Mr. Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders were accused of conspiring with foreign armed groups, including Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah, to destabilize Egypt. Mr. Morsi was not among those condemned to death in that case.

Among those referred to the mufti in the espionage case was Emad Shahin, an Egyptian political scientist now living in the United States. In the jailbreak case, the Brotherhood’s top spiritual guide, Mohamed Badie, and a former Parliament speaker, Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, were also sentenced to death.

Under Egyptian law, Mr. Shahin and the others convicted in absentia are entitled to a retrial if they enter Egypt.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who had cultivated strong ties with Mr. Morsi, denounced the sentence, calling it a return to “ancient Egypt,” and he criticized Western nations for not doing enough to oppose the overthrow of Mr. Morsi.

Mr. Morsi was removed from power by the military in July 2013 after protests that concluded a divisive year in office. He was held incommunicado at a secret location before reappearing during the opening of a trial months later. After Mr. Morsi’s removal from power, the state began a vast crackdown on Islamists and other dissenting voices, killing more than a thousand and arresting tens of thousands.

Mona El-Ghobashy, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia University, said Mr. Morsi’s trial was part of the Egyptian authorities’ offensive against the forces of the uprising that toppled Mr. Mubarak.

“The self-appointed permanent guardians of the state, judiciary and military are messaging that the revolution’s political results (free elections, civilian president, right to protest) were unnatural, unreal and unsustainable,” Ms. Ghobashy wrote in an email. “They’re saying to Egyptians: This whole business of democracy and choosing your rulers is a fantasy. That’s not the way power works here.”

“In light of the politically charged environment within which the Morsi prosecutions are taking place, the perception by some may be that these trials are more about political retaliation than bona fide criminal activity,” she said.

Saturday’s ruling was the second against Mr. Morsi in less than a month. In April, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of inciting violence and overseeing the illegal detention and torture of protesters while he was in office. That case centered on a deadly street brawl between Brotherhood supporters and opponents in Cairo in 2012.

He faces separate trials over charges of leaking documents, fraud and insulting the judiciary.


Key Iraqi City Falls to ISIS as Last of Security Forces Flee

BAGHDAD — The last Iraqi security forces fled the provincial capital of Ramadi on Sunday, as the city fell completely to the militants of the Islamic State, who ransacked the provincial military headquarters, seizing a large store of weapons, and killed people loyal to the government, according to security officials and tribal leaders.

The fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, despite intensified American airstrikes in recent weeks in a bid to save the city, represented the biggest victory so far this year for the extremist group, which has declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast areas of Syria and Iraq that it controls. The fall of Ramadi also laid bare the failed strategy of the Iraqi government, which had announced last month a new offensive to retake Anbar Province, a vast desert region in the west of which Ramadi is the capital.

“The city has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for Anbar’s governor. Mr. Haimour said that at least 500 civilians and security personnel had been killed over the last two days in and around Ramadi, either from fighting or executions. Among the dead, he said, was the 3-year-old daughter of a soldier.


“Men, women, kids and fighters’ bodies are scattered on the ground,” said Sheikh Rafi al-Fahdawi, a tribal leader from Ramadi, who was in Baghdad on Sunday and whose men had been resisting the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

He also said, “All security forces and tribal leaders have either retreated or been killed in battle. It is a big loss.”

The loss of Ramadi came a day after the Pentagon said Special Operations Forces, flying in helicopters that took off from Iraq, carried out a raid in eastern Syria that resulted in the death of an Islamic State leader and the capture of his wife, along with a trove of materials American officials hope will yield important intelligence on the group.

American officials have also insisted recently that the Islamic State is on the defensive in Iraq, noting that the group has lost territory in Salahuddin Province and in some other areas in northern Iraq near the border with the autonomous Kurdish region. Yet the fall of Ramadi shows that the group is still capable of carrying out effective offensive operations.

Anbar Province holds painful historical import for the United States as the place where nearly 1,300 soldiers and marines died after the American invasion of 2003. Since the beginning of 2014, months before the fall of Mosul and the start of the American air campaign against Islamic State, the United States has been working with the Iraqi government to push back the extremist group in Anbar, sending vast supplies of weapons and ammunition and, more recently, training Sunni tribal fighters at an airbase in the province.

With defeat looming in Ramadi on Sunday afternoon, the Anbar Provincial Council met in Baghdad and voted to ask Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send Shiite irregulars to rescue Anbar, a largely Sunni province. In response, Mr. Abadi issued a statement calling for the militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces and including several powerful Shiite forces supported by Iran, to be ready to fight in Anbar. Some of the Shiite irregular units, which were formed last summer after Shiite clerics put out a call to arms, are more firmly under the command of the government, while others answer to Iran.

The involvement of the militias in Anbar had been opposed by the United States, which leads an international coalition that has been carrying out airstrikes in support of Iraqi forces. American officials had worried the militias could inflame sectarian tensions in the province and ultimately make it harder to pacify.

As they considered asking for the assistance of the militias, Anbar officials met over the weekend with the American ambassador to Iraq, Stuart E. Jones, to ascertain the United States position on the issue. According to officials, Mr. Jones told the Anbar delegation that the United States would continue its air campaign, provided that the militias were under the command of Mr. Abadi, and not Iranian advisers, and that the militias were properly organized so as to avoid becoming casualties of American bombing runs.

At the outset of an offensive to liberate Tikrit, in Salahuddin Province, in March, the Iranian-backed militias took the lead on the ground, and American warplanes stayed away. Once those militias stalled, Mr. Abadi ordered them to retreat, which was followed by American airstrikes and an advance by Iraqi security forces, and the liberation of Tikrit.

In the wake of that victory, Mr. Abadi promised a new effort in Anbar, a campaign that was supposed to be led by the Iraqi security forces and supported by American airstrikes, with Iran and its militias on the sidelines. A key component of that strategy was to arm local Sunni tribesmen to do the fighting, but that plan never materialized in large numbers, partly because of resistance by powerful Shiite political leaders in Baghdad.

The deterioration of Anbar over the last month underscored the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi Army, which is being trained by American military advisers, and raised questions about the United States strategy to defeat the Islamic State. At the same time, now that the militias are being called upon, the collapse of Ramadi has demonstrated again the influence of Iran, even if its advisers are unlikely to be on the ground in Anbar, as they were during the operation in Tikrit.

The Islamic State, which has held areas around Ramadi for nearly a year and a half, began an offensive on the city late Thursday night, and on Friday afternoon captured the provincial government headquarters.

Mr. Abadi on Friday promised to send reinforcements to the city, but ultimately only a couple hundred soldiers arrived from Baghdad to help resist in one of the last contested neighborhoods in the city, according to a security official in Anbar.

American officials in Washington downplayed the situation Friday, saying it was similar to the up-and-down fighting that had been continuing there since the beginning of last year.

Yet the Islamic State was able to consolidate its hold of the city over the weekend, and on Sunday seized one of the last government redoubts — the local operations command center. The remaining officers and soldiers had fled, and one of them reached by telephone Sunday afternoon said they were stuck in a convoy southwest of Ramadi, with Islamic State militants closing in from four sides.

Another soldier who had been stationed at the Anbar Operations Command headquarters said the forces left behind a huge cache of heavy weapons that had recently been sent by Baghdad, including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns. The weapons had been supplied by both the United States and Russia.

“ISIS is gaining more weapons, and the battle will be harder in the future,” said the soldier, who declined to give his name because he feared for his life.

Shiite militia leaders on Sunday, who had mostly watched the collapse of Anbar from afar, were scrambling to mobilize their men.

Mueen al-Kadhumi, a leader in the Popular Mobilization Forces and a member of the Badr Organization, a longstanding militia with ties to Iran, said, “We have recalled all off-duty fighters to join their units as soon as possible to participate in the upcoming battle for Anbar.”

Pentagon officials said Sunday that it was premature to declare that Ramadi had fallen.

“We’re continuing to monitor reports of tough fighting in Ramadi and the situation remains fluid and contested,” said Col. Steven H. Warren, a Defense Department spokesman.

Coalition warplanes carried out more attacks on Islamic State targets in Iraq, with seven airstrikes on militant positions in or near Ramadi over the weekend, according to official statements. But the advance by Islamic State fighters was evidence again that American air power alone cannot hold territory for the Baghdad government, nor dislodge militants, without an effective Iraqi force on the ground to battle the Islamic State fighters.

As the Islamic State sealed its advance into Ramadi, the wife of the militant organization’s senior financial officer remained in American custody in Iraq on Sunday. The wife, Umm Sayyaf, was captured by Delta Force commandos during the Saturday raid into Syria that killed her husband, Abu Sayyaf, and about a dozen militant fighters.

One senior American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, said Umm Sayyaf “was more than just her husband’s right-hand man and partner. She was likely involved in details about the hostage-taking, and how that worked.”

This official acknowledged that Abu Sayyaf’s death likely would present only a minor disruption in the Islamic State’s broader financial operations, which include black-market sales of petroleum products to raise cash.


Martin Wolf: “The embattled future of global trade policy”

The embattled future of global trade policy

Ingram Pinn illustration

Should proposed US plurilateral trade agreements be welcomed? This is a big question, not least for those who consider the liberalisation of world trade to be a signal achievement. It is also highly controversial.

Since the failure of the “Doha round” of multilateral negotiations — launched shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 — the focus of global trade policy has shifted towards plurilateral agreements restricted to a limited subgroup of partners. The most significant are US-led: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As a study by the US Council of Economic Advisers puts it, the Obama administration’s trade agenda aims to put America “at the center of an integrated trade zone covering nearly two-thirds of the global economy and almost 65 per cent of US goods trade”.

The TPP is a negotiation with 11 countries, most importantly Japan. Its partners account for 36 per cent of world output, 11 per cent of population and about one-third of merchandise trade. The TTIP is between the US and the EU, which account for 46 per cent of global output and 28 per cent of merchandise trade. The main partner not included in these negotiations is, of course, China.

Some of the countries participating in the TPP still have quite high barriers to imports of goods. The CEA notes the relatively high tariffs in Malaysia and Vietnam and agricultural protection in Japan. It also argues that the TPP partners and EU have higher barriers to imports of services than the US.

Yet lowering barriers is only a part of the US aim. The CEA report adds that, in the TPP, Washington is proposing “enforceable labor protections and greener policies”. But it is also seeking “strong enforcement of intellectual property rights”. In the TTIP, “both sides seek agreement on crosscutting disciplines on regulatory coherence and transparency” — in other words making rules more compatible with one another and more transparent for business. Thus, both the TPP and TTIP are efforts to shape the rules of international commerce. Pascal Lamy, former director-general of the World Trade Organisation, argues that “TPP is mostly, though not only, about classical protection-related market access issues . . . TTIP is mostly, though not only, about . . . .  regulatory convergence”.

Whether these negotiations succeed will depend on whether the administration obtainstrade promotion authority from Congress. But should we want them to succeed?

The straightforward points in favour are: plurilateral agreements are now the best way to liberalise global trade, given the failure of multilateral negotiations; their new rules and procedures offer the best template for the future; and they will bring significant gains.

These arguments have force. Yet there are also counter-arguments.

Martin Wolf 1

With limited political capital, the focus on plurilateral trade arrangements risks diversion of effort from the WTO. That might undermine the potency of global rules. Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia University stresses such risks. Furthermore, preferential trading arrangements risk distorting complex global production chains.

Another concern is that the US is using its clout to impose regulations that are not in the interests of its partners. I would be less concerned about labour and environmental standards, though both might be inappropriate, than about protection of intellectual property. It is not true that tighter standards are in the interest of all. On the contrary, if US standards were to be imposed, the costs might be very high.

Do you think Britain should repeal the Human Rights Act?

Finally, the economic gains are unlikely to be large. Trade has been substantially liberalised already and any gains decline as barriers fall. A study of the TPP by thePeterson Institute for International Economics in Washington suggests the rise in US real incomes would be below 0.4 per cent of national income. A study of the TTIP published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London comes to slightly higher figures for the EU and US. Completion of the TPP and TTIP might raise US real incomes by 1 per cent of GDP. This is not nothing, but it is not large.

Martin Wolf 2

The US-EU agreement does not raise concerns about the US ability to bully its partners. In trade, the two sides are equally matched. There are three further concerns with the TTIP, however.

First, Jeronim Capaldo of Tufts University has argued that estimates of the gains ignore macroeconomic costs. His Keynesian approach argues that the EU will lose demand because of a fall in its trade surplus. This is ridiculous. Macroeconomic problems should be addressed with macroeconomic policies. Trade policy has different goals.

Second, some of the barriers they are attempting to remove reflect different attitudes to risk. The negotiators will have to devise a text that allows co-ordination of regulatory procedures — over drug testing, say, without imposing identical preferences. If Europeans do not want genetically modified organisms, they must be allowed to preserve that preference. If trade policy treads on such sacred ground, it will die.

Martin Wolf 3

Finally, we have the vexed issue of investor-state dispute settlement. Many complain that political choices — publicly-funded health systems or the right to control drug prices — might be put at risk by systems biased in favour of business. Negotiators fervently deny this. They had better be right.

On balance, the benefits of the TPP and TTIP will probably be positive, but modest. But there are risks. They must not become an alternative to the WTO or an attempt to push China to the margins of trade policy making. They must not be used to impose damaging regulations or subvert legitimate ones. Tread carefully. Overreaching could prove counterproductive even to the cause of global trade liberalisation.

. . .

Letter in response to this column:

The macroeconomic angle on the trade debate / From Jeronim Capaldo

Fonte: Financial Times

E.U. Proposes Quota System to Address Migration Crisis

Publicado originalmente em 13 de maio de 2015

BRUSSELS — The European Union authorities responded to the Continent’s growing migration crisis with proposals on Wednesday aimed at easing the burden for the countries on the Mediterranean that have borne the brunt of rescue operations.

A proposed quota system, which would oblige most European Union member states to take in more migrants, at least temporarily, generated sharp opposition from Britain, Ireland, Denmark and the Czech Republic even before it was formally put forward.

The contentious nature of the debate amounts to a crucial test of the European Union’s commitment to address a serious human rights issue, even as some of its members resist efforts to centralize policies that they say could backfire.

Known as the European Agenda on Migration, the quota system would primarily help Greece, Italy and Malta, which are among the main arrival points for the large number of migrants making the dangerous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea. An estimated 1,800 people have died so far this year in such journeys, which are often made in flimsy boats that are vulnerable to capsizing or catching fire.

A separate plan, to be discussed on Monday by European Union foreign ministers at a meeting in Brussels, will address the use of military force aimed at preventing trafficking by destroying vessels before they leave North Africa.

European Union leaders are expected to decide in June on the plan for quotas, which was proposed by the bloc’s executive agency, the European Commission, and calls for the 28 member states to take in as many refugees as their size and economic circumstances permit.

The current system is already under serious strain and will be unable to handle the even larger flows of people expected to arrive during the summer when seas are more navigable, the commission warned.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the quota proposals represented a “bold agenda” that should “address the plight of those escaping from wars, persecution and poverty.” Migration, she said, “is a shared responsibility” for all “member states.”

Gianni Pittella, an Italian lawmaker at the European Parliament, said the announcement showed that “Europe is waking up.” There has been “a shameful delay” but European Union authorities have “finally taken a step forward on the way to creating a common European policy on migration,” said Mr. Pittella, who is the president of the Socialists and Democrats group at the Parliament.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, took a sharply different view. Britain “must — and will — resist calls for the mandatory relocation or resettlement of migrants across Europe,” she wrote in Wednesday’s issue of The Times of London.

What’s Behind the Surge in Refugees Crossing the Mediterranean Sea

There were about 17 times as many refugee deaths from January to April this year as there were during the same period last year.

“Such an approach would only strengthen the incentives for criminal gangs to keep plying their evil trade — and reduce the incentive of member states to develop their own effective asylum systems,” she warned.

Her criticism followed comments a day earlier from Martin Povejsil, the Czech ambassador to the European Union, who suggested that his country would resist mandatory plans to accept migrants.

“For most of them, the Czech Republic never was and never will be a country of their choice,” Mr. Povejsil said. “So to bring them into the Czech Republic or into similar member states of the E.U. is only a temporary solution which cannot solve anything.”

The British, Irish and Danes are expected to be able to opt out of the proposed quota system, but others, including the Czechs, would need to try to mount enough opposition to block approval. That is seen as unlikely, because the plan is expected to have the backing of much larger member states like Italy, France and Germany that should be able to push the measure through in the European Union’s weighted voting system.

The second plank of the European response — military action to destroy vessels used by traffickers before they leave African shores — would be directed toward a possible campaign in the Mediterranean and in Libyan territorial waters.

A version of that plan seen this week by the The New York Times suggested that operations “ashore” in Libya may be needed to destroy the traffickers’ vessels and materials, although at a news conference on Wednesday, Ms. Mogherini sought to rule out ground operations.

No “boots on the ground” were foreseen in Libya, Ms. Mogherini said. Instead, the plan envisions coordination with Libyan authorities to carry out “a narrow operation to dismantle the business model” of the traffickers.

Those operations, to be discussed at the meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, would be primarily “naval,” she said.

Fonte: The New York Times

Rusia celebra la victoria sobre los nazis con un desfile al estilo soviético

Postado originalmente em 9 de maio de 2015

La mayoría de los líderes europeos no acude al evento en señal de protesta por el conflicto de Ucrania y la anexión de Crimea

El líder de Rusia, Vladímir Putin, advirtió este sábado que los “intentos de crear un mundo monopolar” y el creciente peso de la ideología de los bloques militares minan “la estabilidad del desarrollo mundial”. En la plaza Roja, Putin presidió el desfile militar dedicado al 70º aniversario de la victoria en la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el mayor despliegue de poderío bélico organizado por Rusia en una conmemoración semejante. Los dirigentes de EE UU y la Unión Europea, en su mayoría, boicotearon el evento para protestar por la política del Kremlin en Ucrania y la anexión de Crimea en 2014.

En Kiev, Petró Poroshenko, el presidente de Ucrania, celebró también el fin de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, aunque marcó las diferencias con Moscú. Poroshenko subrayó que los “seis millones de ucranios como mínimo” que combatieron el nazismo desde las filas del Ejército Rojo son el testimonio “ante Dios y ante la Historia del injusto mito propagandístico de Moscú, según el cual Rusia ganó la guerra sin Ucrania”. Según Poroshenko, resulta de “gran cinismo” el intento de presentar a Ucrania como un “Estado fascista” para “basar y justificar ante el pueblo ruso el delito de la agresión de Rusia contra Ucrania”. El jefe del Estado honró además la memoria del Ejército Rebelde de Ucrania, (nacionalista y antisoviético) que, según dijo, abrió un “segundo frente” contra los “ocupantes fascistas, adelantándose a su época por su visión de Ucrania como Estado independiente y no como parte del imperio ruso”.

En la plaza Roja, Putin instó a la “tarea común de elaborar un sistema de igual seguridad para todos los Estados”, construido sobre bases regionales y globales e independiente de los bloques. “Solo así garantizaremos la paz y la tranquilidad en el planeta”, añadió. En múltiples ocasiones, Putin ha acusado a EE UU y a la OTAN de planear un cinturón hostil en torno a Rusia del que Ucrania formaría parte. En la última década, afirmó Putin, “han comenzado a ignorarse cada vez más los principios básicos de la colaboración internacional”, establecidos tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Ante el Kremlin desfilaron cerca de 16.000 uniformados, parte de ellos en trajes de época, y también el armamento más moderno del Ejército ruso, como el tanque T-14 Armata, los misiles balísticos RS-24 Yars, que pueden llevar tres cabezas nucleares, y el complejo de misiles antiaéreos Pantsir. Más de 140 aviones cruzaron el cielo despejado de Moscú y por segundo año consecutivo, en el desfile participaron unidades militares de la anexionada Crimea. En total, en las celebraciones del Día de la Victoria han participado 12 millones de personas.

Vladímir Putin, presidente ruso (en el centro), sostiene una foto de su padre, que combatió en la II Guerra Mundial, este sábado en Moscú. / AP

Después, la plaza Roja fue ocupada por los ciudadanos que marchaban portando fotos de familiares que sufrieron la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Al frente de la multitudinaria columna (centenares de miles de personas según los organizadores) marchaba el mismo Vladímir Putin sosteniendo la foto de su padre en uniforme de marino. Putin padre, fallecido en 1998, empleado en una fábrica militar en Leningrado, formó parte de un grupo de guerrilleros del NKVD (los órganos de seguridad de la época) que volaban puentes y ferrocarriles en territorio enemigo, según contaba el presidente en una entrevista. Herido, Putin padre regresó a su casa apoyándose en muletas, a tiempo para rescatar a su propia esposa cuando esta, aún viva, era sacada de su domicilio entre una pila de cadáveres. Un hermano del líder ruso, de tres años, murió durante el bloqueo de Leningrado.

Putin contempló el desfile entre el líder chino Xi Jinping y el presidente de Kazajistán, Nursultán Nazarbáyev. Asistieron también el líder indio Pranab Juerjee, el cubano Raúl Castro, el venezolano Nicolás Maduro y el secretario de la ONU, Ban Ki-moon, entre otros. Los países miembros de la UE fueron representados en su mayoría por sus embajadores, aunque algunos políticos, como la jefa del Parlamento griego y el presidente de Chipre sí asistieron al desfile. Otros, como el ministro de exteriores francés, optaron por un compromiso: ir a la ofrenda floral ante la tumba del soldado desconocido, en los jardines de Alejandro, tras evitar el desfile. Esta es la fórmula que adoptará la canciller alemana Angela Merkel, el domingo 10 de mayo.

Desde el punto de vista formal, Putin ignoró la ausencia de los líderes de los Estados aliados de la Unión Soviética contra la Alemania nazi, pero dijo estar “agradecido a los pueblos de Gran Bretaña y Francia, de los Estados Unidos por su contribución a la victoria” y también a los “antifascistas de diferentes países, que con espíritu de sacrificio lucharon en las unidades de partisanos y en la clandestinidad, incluido en la misma Alemania”. “Ahora, 70 años después, la historia de nuevo desafía a nuestra racionalidad y nuestra vigilancia. No debemos olvidar que las ideas de superioridad y discriminación racial originaron la guerra más sangrienta, en la que se vio involucrada casi el 80% de la población de la tierra”. La URSS “recibió los golpes más crueles del enemigo” y en su territorio se concentró toda la capacidad bélica de los nazis y se libraron las batallas decisivas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, dijo. “Dondequiera que vivan hoy los veteranos de la Gran Guerra Patria, deben saber, que en Rusia rendimos tributo a su firmeza, valor y fidelidad a la hermandad en el frente”. Más de 28 millones de ciudadanos de la URSS perecieron en la Gran Guerra Patria, la denominación rusa del periodo comprendido entre el 22 de junio de 1941, fecha de la invasión nazi, hasta la victoria en mayo de 1945.

El ministro de Defensa de Rusia, Serguéi Shaigú, pasó revista a las unidades militares participantes en el desfile, que contó también con contingentes de Armenia, Azerbaiyán, Kazajistán, Serbia, Bielorrusia y Mongolia, entre otros. Unidades del Ejército de China desfilaron también por primera vez en la plaza Roja. Putin ha aceptado una invitación de Jinping para conmemorar en septiembre en Pekín el 70º aniversario del fin de la guerra en Asia.

Los rusos volvieron a celebrar el 9 de mayo, ahora ya prácticamente sin los veteranos. Muchos portaban la cinta de San Jorge, de franjas naranja y negro, que se puso de moda a partir de 2005 y que se ha generalizado como símbolo de la victoria. Desde 2014, la cinta ha quedado asociada para muchos a la intervención de Moscú en Ucrania y a la guerra en aquel país. Más de seis mil personas han muerto en la contienda en el este de Ucrania, donde los líderes secesionistas, que usan la cinta de san Jorge como símbolo, celebraron el sábado sus propios “desfiles” en sintonía con Moscú.

Fonte: El país

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