nFollowing the statements of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned against suggestions that the allies would not be able to fulfill their commitment to provide assistance in the event of an attack. “Any suggestion that allies will not stand up for each other undermines our entire security, including the security of the United States,” Stoltenberg said on Sunday.
This means increased risks for American and European soldiers. The United States is expected to remain a strong and committed NATO ally regardless of who wins the presidential election. Trump wants to run again for the Republican Party in the November elections.
The former US President said at an election campaign event in South Carolina that “the president of a great country” once asked him whether the United States would still protect this country from Russia even if it did not pay for defense costs. He replied: “No, I will not protect you.” Rather, he „encourages Russia to do whatever the hell it wants.” It was not clear whether such a conversation had ever taken place between Trump and a head of state, as the Republican also said: „Let's assume it did.”
Stoltenberg stressed on Sunday that NATO is ready and able to defend all allies. The Norwegian said: “Any attack on NATO will be met with a unified and strong response.” EU Council President Charles Michel has criticized that „reckless statements” on NATO security only serve the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is necessary for the European Union to become more independent, invest in its defense and stand united.
CDU foreign policy expert Norbert Röttgen warned in Bild newspaper that Germany should “prepare for the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US elections in the fall.” The former chairman of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee said this would plunge NATO into an existential crisis because Trump sees the defense alliance in purely transactional terms. “Anyone who, in his view, does not pay enough will not be protected by the United States.” From Trump's perspective, he declares countries that don't pay „fair game.” This refers primarily to us Germans.”
Therefore, Germany must „understand that we will soon have no choice but to defend ourselves at a time when Europe is witnessing a war. We must do this as Europeans because anything else will be tantamount to surrender to Putin,” Röttgen said. He demanded, in concrete terms, that this It means „we have to significantly increase arms production in Europe.”
White House spokesman in Washington, Andrew Bates, previously strongly criticized Trump's statements on Saturday evening (local time). “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is horrific and troubling, and puts American national security, global security, and the stability of our domestic economy at risk,” Bates said.
Announcing mass deportations
Trump, who ruled the White House from 2017 to 2021, has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the United States from the defense alliance. The Republican wants to be re-elected as president next November and is fighting for his candidacy in his party's primary elections. Among other things, he declares his desire to continue the fundamental reassessment of NATO.
His party, in turn, blocked the release of billions more in aid to Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia, for several months. On Wednesday, a legislative package that included support for Israel and billions of dollars for US border security, in addition to new aid worth 60 billion euros (56 billion euros) for Kiev, failed in the Senate.
In South Carolina, Trump celebrated the failure of the legislative package and also announced mass deportations if he is re-elected. “From day one, I will end the entire open borders policy of the Biden administration and we will launch the largest national deportation operation in the history of the United States,” the Republican said. „We have no other choice.”
The so-called National Security Amendment included a total of $20.2 billion for border security. In addition, the settlement negotiated by Democrats and Republicans included several changes to immigration policy.
Ridicule against Nikki Haley
At the rally, Trump also mocked his rival for the Republican nomination, Nikki Haley, who was a former governor of the US state. In his speech to voters in Haley's home state, Trump raised the issue of her husband, Michael, remaining in the election campaign. “Where's your husband? Oh, he's out of town (…) What happened to your husband?” Trump blasphemed.
The person addressed responded on online platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Michael is deployed and serving our country, which you don't know. “A person who does not consistently respect the sacrifices of military families has no place as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.” Haley wrote In reference to her husband's deployment in the Horn of Africa.
Haley is considered Trump's only internal party competitor in the struggle for the presidency of the Republican Party. However, in the primaries that actually took place, she always trailed the former president.
In the border region with Finland, Russia uses migrants as a means of pressure to weaken the cohesion of the European Union. Finland responds with countermeasures.
Finland has been part of NATO since April 2023, abandoning its decades-old neutrality. Since then, tensions have increased with neighboring Russia. In addition to canceling the bilateral border agreement, Russian President Vladimir Putin also announced the transfer of troops to the border area with Finland. This is also evident in this year's annual report issued by the Estonian government, which shows that Russia is planning to deploy new units near the Finnish border.
Finland has responded to Russian measures by building a border fence up to 200 kilometers long – not least to combat illegal immigration in the border area allegedly controlled by Russia. The Frankfurter Rundschau reports on this matter.
As Finnish Interior Minister Mari Rantanen revealed in a press conference on Tuesday, the Finnish government has information that “thousands of people are waiting on the Russian side to reach Finland.” According to Rantanen, it can be assumed that more migrants will try to cross the border once temperatures rise in the spring.
In order to adequately address the alleged Russian actions, Rantanen announced that the laws would be amended. This is intended to ensure effective border protection. These changes to the law will help “strengthen security at the border and combat any attempts to put pressure on Finland in the form of exploitative migration,” the Raantan Interior Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The Finnish border with Russia is currently closed. According to the conservative Finnish government, this will not change until May this year after the number of migrants at the border rose rapidly at the end of 2023. According to the Finnish Border Authority, about 1,300 migrants from countries such as Yemen, Somalia and Syria tried to reach Finland via Russia between August and December 2023. Previously, only one asylum seeker applied for asylum per day on average.
Finland-Russia is Belarus-Poland
According to Armida van Rij of think tank Chatham House, Russia's strategy of using controlled migration as a means of pressure and thus undermining the cohesion of Western countries is a so-called gray zone tactic. According to van Rij, such tactics involve measures that go beyond purely political pressure, but do not clearly constitute an act of aggression. It is therefore difficult to evaluate such measures under international law.
The issue of migration is particularly ripe for dividing EU member states, as the issue is particularly polarizing within the Union. According to Van Rij, the migrants will be used “like pawns” to advance Russian interests.
Between 2021 and 2022, Belarusian Governor Alexander Lukashenko deliberately deployed migrants to the border region with Poland in order to pressure the European Union and force an end to sanctions against Belarus – but to no avail.
This time, the European Union seems better prepared for such measures. According to Van Rij, the European Union has already begun to provide personnel, equipment and financial support to Finland in order to limit the consequences of Russian measures. Finland also provides government educational programs for the Finnish population in order to make Russian measures more understandable and prevent „fake news.”
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Foreign Minister Baerbock was praising the G20 as an engine for reform in international relations, when suddenly her plane got stuck in Rio de Janeiro. The captain suspects that “the Brazilians are putting obstacles in our way.” This is not the first accident that the green politician has been exposed to.
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock once again suffered a delay in one of her trips abroad. The Green politician originally wanted to leave for New York at around 5:30pm (CET) from the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Initially there was a waiting time because the government's Airbus A350-900 still had to be refueled. After completing refueling at approximately 6:30 p.m., the flight commander had to continue to postpone the minister. “Looks like the worm is there today,” the captain said. “We are currently trying to get permission to start the flight to New York. But the Brazilians are putting obstacles in our way today, one way or another.” At the moment, it appears that the departure permit will not be issued for another 30 to 40 minutes at the earliest. „I can't tell you why. In 40 years of flying service, I've never encountered anything like this. I'm sorry.”
At approximately 7 p.m., the plane took off on a nine-hour flight to New York. Baerbock wants to speak there on Friday, among other things, at the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council meetings on the second anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
Lots of experience dealing with disrupted flights
Only in January did Baerbock, often affected by problems on commercial flights, have to make an unplanned layover on a trip to East Africa. Due to the lack of a flight permit for Eritrea, their plane had to return en route from Berlin to Djibouti in East Africa and land in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Baerbock had previously described the G20 round as a “reform engine” within international institutions such as the United Nations. “If we want to meet the complex challenges of the 21st century, our multilateral institutions must not remain stuck in the last century,” the Green politician said in a discussion among G20 foreign ministers on reforms of international political organizations and the international financial architecture. “I believe that the G20 can and must play a decisive role in this reform process.”
The Supreme Court in London decides to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. European Parliamentarian Martin Sonneborn speaks about the issue in an interview.
Mr Sonneborn, you are attending Julian Assange's extradition hearing in London. How has it gone so far?
Sonneborn: Actually very good. There were two submissions that were brilliantly presented by Assange's lawyers. I was in the courtroom and understood almost nothing.
There were reports that the technology left a lot to be desired.
What the British are doing here amounts to sabotage. The world's most important trial over freedom of the press – and it's taking place in the smallest courtroom you can find in the Supreme Court. The court blocked granting internet access outside of England and Wales – so people from the USA, Australia and the EU were unable to connect. Hence there is only room for twenty journalists at the exhibition. With live streaming, postage stamp-sized heads appear on the screen, often with no discernible sound for the first half. We managed to sneak into the hall, and MP Sevim Dagdelen was sitting with the Assange family and he let us in. Germans abroad must band together.
Sonneborn on Assange: “An attempt to silence critical journalism”
The United States charges Julian Assange The charges of espionage and conspiracy threaten his personal safety and freedom of the press. A hearing on Assange's extradition to the United States was held at the High Court in London on February 20-21. This initially ended without resolution. If extradited, Assange could face up to 175 years in prison.
Frankfurter Rundschau The case of Julian Assange is accompanied by analyses, commentaries and interviews. They highlight the background and provide an overview of events in London. We have compiled the texts into our electronic file on Assange.
What did Assange's lawyers say?
All the arguments are on his side – I have shown once again how crazy it is to accuse a propagandist of publishing true information, including US war crimes. The whole thing is an attempt to criminalize and silence critical journalism. Assange's information was available in Spiegel, The Guardian, and The New York Times.
Assange is accused of espionage. what do you think?
Even if the espionage charge was deemed justified, he would not be allowed to be extradited because that would violate the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Great Britain, which includes an explicit ban on political crimes. Espionage is considered a political crime under British law.
An Australian citizen is set to receive a 175-year prison sentence in the USA for exposing US war crimes. I once recommended to my colleagues in the European Union Parliament to show the film „Collateral Murder” on YouTube in one of my speeches. American soldiers can be seen shooting indiscriminately at civilians, children and journalists from a helicopter in Baghdad. The people who committed these war crimes will not be tried. And the man who announced this had been rotting in six-square-meter cells for five years.
Extradition Hearing – Concern about Assange is great
Julian Assange himself was not present on Tuesday. They said he was sick. What do you know about his condition?
There is great concern for him here. He has been detained in a high-security prison for five years, without any valid legal basis. Belmarsh, to make this more descriptive, is the prison where the supervillains in the James Bond films are imprisoned. British food in solitary confinement, with malnutrition, is often an additional torture, as I have just discovered again in London.
At least he was still connected to the last trial, right?
Yes, there was a camera in the cell he was in. Assange suffered a minor stroke during the trial. It must be terrible when you're sitting there listening to lawyers negotiating your fate with other lawyers, and you can't even express yourself. On Tuesday, a luxury cell was prepared for him in the courtroom: a wire cage.
Yes, you have to imagine it a little like the old Robin Hood movies. A late British Gothic room in which a few light bulbs, some broken microphones and some decorated curtains are hung in front of the high windows. On the front left was a few square metres, perhaps larger than his cell, which was surrounded by huge black bars. This is where Assange was supposed to sit.
The petitions claimed that Assange was accused of a political crime and that Britain was not allowed to extradite him because of a related treaty with the United States. What to expect for day two?
On Wednesday, the American side filed its charges under the Espionage Act, a law dating back to World War I. In fact, I don't see what would be great in terms of content. However, we know of course that the final decision will be made in Washington whether to halt this process or continue it until the bitter end.
'It's not enough': Sonneborn on lack of support for Assange
Do you have the impression that the number of Assange supporters has decreased? In Germany, many Green leaders have remained virtually silent. What does the situation look like in the European Parliament?
I think there are three MEPs here. This is very little. I saw Andrzej Honko and Sevim Dagdelen from the Bundestag and Jeremy Corbyn from the Labor Party. It is very unfortunate that more politicians are not defending Assange. It's about absolute basic rights, and it's about these Western values that we always vocalize when it suits us. Unfortunately, both Baerbock and Habeck, who had publicly called for Assange's release before the government took office, promptly forgot their demands in their offices. Fortunately, there were a relatively large number of people on the streets of London.
It was previously said that Julian Assange could be extradited to the United States within a few days after the hearing. How do you rate that?
So, based on everything I've heard, I think Democrats don't want to have a third contentious issue before the presidential election in addition to the problem areas of Ukraine and the Middle East. I think it will not be delivered at the moment. Assange may remain detained in his cell until the US elections.
Supporters demand freedom for Julian Assange. But if he is not extradited to the US after the hearing, but remains imprisoned in Belmarsh, it will only be a victory. On what legal basis can he continue to be detained?
The court may postpone its pending decision indefinitely. Assange has hardly any contact with his family. He has two young children and a wife. This is very stressful for everyone. An example is made here.
French texts on the Assange case (selection)
– Julian Assange in Portrait: One Man, Many Faces Comment: The Assange case is a campaign against freedom of the press – Article: Art, Protest, and the Julian Assange Case – The United States of America and the Assange case: the dark side of power – Analysis: What remains of WikiLeaks? – Retrospective article: For Julian Assange, it's all about the now – Support: Protests in front of the magnificent London Palace – Politics: In the Assange case, the Greens were clearly silent
Interviews: -Stella Assange: “Julian could be on a plane to the United States the day after the hearing.” -Jeremy Corbyn: 'The media is very disappointing'
Assange case: Every whistleblower will 'think three times' in the future
What do you mean?
In the future, all whistleblowers will think three times whether they really want to expose government crimes. But I think everyone understands that at this point, so: release Assange! There is a public interest in uncovering Secret Service and military crimes.
We have published a 32-page booklet on the case, which can be downloaded from my home page. This is the only semi-official document from the EU Parliament in which Assange's name is mentioned. Otherwise, the major parties will work to distance him from even the smallest mention on any sub-point, even in the least important decisions. In our documentary, which is unfortunately not at all satirical, and even a bit controversial at times when the story becomes too tiresome, it becomes clear that Mike “Fatty” Pompeo is waging a vendetta against him.
Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State and former CIA Director?
Yes. Assange has posted via WikiLeaks that the CIA not only conducts mass surveillance and espionage on governments and citizens around the world, but also – and this is against US law – on its own American citizens. It is capable of invading all computers and even taking over Internet-connected home appliances, even steering your car or turning your refrigerator into a well-stocked listening device. Pompeo took this personally, and the CIA then hatched a plan to kidnap and kill Assange. Approved by the White House. How do you want to extradite a person to a country that was planning to kill him?
I said that at the European Union level they avoid mentioning Assange's name. what is the reason?
I think that at the moment under Ms. von der Leyen's leadership, we are very close to the United States and NATO. This is anti-European and contrary to the Treaty. The Assange case is important to the highest levels of government in the United States; Every US president has pursued him, from Obama to Trump to Biden.
“There are two reasons”: Sonneborn is running for the EU Parliament again
Another question about your renewed candidacy for membership in the European Union Parliament. What motivates you to do this – the final part of idealism?
There are two reasons why we are competing again. The first is: We don't want to get kicked out the door. The CDU and SPD have passed an electoral law reform that violates the constitution and aims to keep us out of parliament using a threshold clause. The real accusation: very bad jokes and too much transparency. We are currently conducting member dispute procedures, and the Federal Constitutional Court recently informed President Steinmeier that he should not prepare the new electoral law at this time. Smiling
I think the accusation of transparency is more serious, right?
Exactly, and this is also the second reason: we can create transparency. Your colleagues here in Brussels are not that critical. But in the European Union we are moving more and more towards surveillance, extra-treaty militarization, and discrimination of opinions. I would like to continue to make all of these things transparent.