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Russia responds to major NATO maneuvers and threatens “severe consequences”

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Russia responds to major NATO maneuvers and threatens “severe consequences”
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NATO wants to rehearse a contingency for an attack with 90,000 troops. Its proximity to the Russian border is causing unrest – and a violent reaction.

BRUSSELS/MOSCOW – NATO wants to hold its largest military exercise in many decades: about 90,000 soldiers will participate in a simulation of a virtual attack on NATO territory. The massive exercise, known as Steadfast Defender, will continue until the end of May, and includes individual exercises extending from North America to NATO's eastern flank near the Russian border. Russia has recently reacted sensitively to NATO exercises near its border. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Moscow has now warned of „tragic consequences.”

Two soldiers during NATO exercises in 2021 at a US Air Force base in Italy. In 2024, the defense alliance began its largest military exercises in decades. © IMAGO / Zuma Wire / US Air Force

According to Moscow, NATO military exercises „deliberately aim to escalate”.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces said that in the context of the war in Ukraine, the 31 NATO member states as well as candidate Sweden will demonstrate “their ability to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic area by transferring forces across the Atlantic from North America.” NATO forces in Europe US General Christopher Cavoli. The NATO general added that „unity, strength and determination” will also be demonstrated.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, described NATO's intention to conduct a military exercise near the Russian border, in Moscow on Friday, as „provocative,” saying it „increases the risk of military incidents and could have tragic consequences for Syria.” Europe.” But she did not specify what consequences this might entail. Zakharova also claimed that the decision to hold a military exercise near the Russian border was deliberately aimed at escalation, according to the official Russian news agency. TASS mentioned.

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However, the diplomat stressed that Russia has no intention of attacking NATO countries. She added: „In this way, the alliance is trying to justify its existence in the eyes of millions of Europeans and Americans, its agenda to contain Russia, justify the crazy increase in military spending, and, of course, distract the public's attention in one way or another.”

NATO exercise: “Do not confuse the content of the exercises with military reality”

On February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine. The large-scale exercise scenario is based on information from German News Agency On a Russian attack on Allied territory, which would trigger the so-called state of alliance under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. Former NATO General Erhard Bühler explained in his podcast, „What are you doing, General?” For background classification: “The content of the exercises should not be confused with the current political and military reality.”

However, Bühler emphasized that the scenario is neither a forecast nor an assessment of the future security situation, but rather an action with an imaginary opponent. Rob Power, head of the NATO Military Committee, explained that the exercises were preparation for “a conflict with Russia and terrorist groups.” The alliance currently believes that Russia is the greatest threat to the security of its allies.

Bauer also pointed out that there is not yet the necessary awareness in society that it is not only the army that needs to be able to act in a conflict or war. The head of the NATO Military Committee added: “The whole society will participate, whether we like it or not.” Power also warned, „I'm not saying things will go wrong tomorrow, but we have to realize that it is not a given that we will live in peace.” (BME)

The editor wrote this article and then used the AI ​​language model to improve at his own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.

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Qatari mediation: 84-year-old right-wing extremist released from Taliban custody

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Qatari mediation: 84-year-old right-wing extremist released from Taliban custody

nAfter nine months in prison with the Taliban in Afghanistan, a right-wing Austrian extremist has been released. The Federal Chancellery and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced, on Sunday, in Vienna, that Herbert Fritz, 84 years old, arrived in the Qatari capital, Doha. It has been under the control of the Islamic Taliban since May 2023.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) thanked the Qatari government on platform X for its mediation in this matter.

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The Foreign Office confirmed that the 84-year-old had received „the best possible consular support” in recent months via the Foreign Office, the responsible embassy in Pakistan and the European Union Representation in Kabul. This meant he was given the medication and hearing aid he so desperately needed.

The man is considered a well-known figure in the far-right scene in Austria. In 1967 he was one of the founding members of the National Democratic Party, which was banned in 1988. He traveled to Afghanistan despite a decades-old travel warning, where he was accused of espionage. According to what was reported by Austrian media Fritz wanted to use his trip to show that Afghanistan was safe again. Shortly before his kidnapping, he had published an article entitled “Vacation with the Taliban” in a right-wing extremist magazine.

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'Everything is falling apart': North Korea even shocked Russian tourists

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'Everything is falling apart': North Korea even shocked Russian tourists

Russia and North Korea are getting closer to each other. This is not only evident through missile launches from Pyongyang. The first tourists allowed to visit North Korea after the pandemic also came from Russia. But the publicity trip leaves a bitter taste among vacationers.

Relations between Moscow and Pyongyang are better than they have been for a long time. The reason is the war in Ukraine. Russia needs ammunition for invasion, which it cannot sufficiently produce itself. In addition, components are missing due to Western sanctions. North Korea can supply it with ammunition, including missiles. A heavily isolated country that is also under sanctions could look to political support and assistance for its nuclear and satellite programmes, for example.

To strengthen the new friendship, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to the far east of his country last September, where he received North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. As icing on the cake, Kim received a luxury car from Putin. Meanwhile, Ukrainian cities are being bombed by missiles from Pyongyang (including Western components).

Tour group of nearly 100 people in front of Pyongyang Airport.

Tour group of nearly 100 people in front of Pyongyang Airport.

(Photo: via Reuters)

However, it is clear that Putin's comfortable path should not be limited to military and technological cooperation. An example of this is the trip of Russian tourists to the neighboring country. Since the attack on Ukraine means that most Russians are no longer able to travel to many Western places, North Korea wants to step in and present itself as a tourist dream country.

Nearly 100 Russians who flew from Vladivostok to Pyongyang on February 9 were the first tourists North Korea has allowed into the country since the pandemic, during which it closed its borders. Before 2020, there were several thousand tourists each year, including from Western countries, who visited North Korea mainly out of curiosity. The Russian travel group was not just looking for relaxation: among the participants were journalists and representatives of the travel industry as well as bloggers and influencers, whose aim was primarily to publish beautiful photos of the dictatorship and drum up advertising. But that didn't really work.

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„It's surreal”

According to the Vostok Intour travel agency that organized it, the trip took four days. According to the British Radio Sky News Tickets cost the equivalent of about 690 euros. „The weather is great right now. It's the best time for winter vacation,” The Russian embassy wrote in Pyongyang to welcome them on Facebook and wish them “good mood and unforgettable impressions.” Vacationers have already had it – some reported from Air Koryo, North Korea's only airline. Sky News quoted one of the tourists as saying: “The plane is old and smells like mothballs.” Others reported technical defects in the 41-year-old machine. “Everything is falling apart,” he says.

Once in Pyongyang, tourists visited not only the statues of the country's founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il – a must-see for visitors – but also the monument to Juche ideology and a student event with accordion music.

They were accommodated at the Yanggakdo International Hotel, but were not allowed to leave the building on their own. The reason: “You don't speak Korean and may have problems,” says travel blogger Ilya Voskresensky. Radio Free Asia saida US government-funded broadcaster.

Voskresensky, On Instagram He documented his trip, and spoke of further restrictions: On the plane, while they were still in Russia, one tourist deleted unpleasant photos from his cell phone. In the country, it was not allowed to photograph construction sites and dilapidated buildings, only scenic and beautiful views. In addition, you were not allowed to move freely. He added: „We did not have the opportunity to talk to ordinary people in North Korea.”

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However, there were only a few people and cars on the streets even at rush hour, which shocked him. “Sometimes you see people, and it's surprising that they all look the same,” he said, referring to their clothing. He told CNN, felt „like a trip back in time”. The empty streets and lack of advertisements reminded him of his grandparents' stories from the Soviet Union. “It's surreal.”

A separate section is planned for Russians

Masikryong Ski Resort, which the group visited after a night in the capital, appeared to have received a better reception. The resort, which opened in 2014 near the city of Wonsan, east of the peninsula, is the only one of its kind in the country and was built on Kim Jong Un's instructions to attract tourists from China in particular. Western technology, which appears to have been smuggled in after sanctions, was also used.

The tour group was largely on their own because other tourists do not come to the country and a visit would be unaffordable for most North Koreans. But their guards were on their heels: Voskresensky shows a man skiing behind him in a video and writes: “This is our personal accompaniment, not paranoia.” After all, according to him, there were no restrictions on photography and filming here.

This may also be North Korea's plan: under no circumstances should Russian tourists explore the country or meet the locals. It would be much better if they kept to themselves in an enclosed area. Investigative portal Insiders Reports, citing a Russian regional authority on the border with North Korea, said its own holiday resort for Russian tourists was already being planned. Pyongyang wants to build 17 hotels, 37 guesthouses, shops and a four-kilometre-long beach on an area of ​​2.8 square kilometers on the east coast. This fits what the head of the Russian Tourism Agency says euronews “Some people dream of visiting North Korea,” he said. “North Korea is a wonderful country.” Russian state television also spoke enthusiastically about the travel destination. It is clear that a holiday there is in the interest of both governments.

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“I have never seen Korean cuisine”

On the other hand, the results for some of the travel group participants were more than mixed. For example, Voskresensky was not only shocked by the deserted streets, but also frustrated by the ubiquitous propaganda. “It is shocking how the cult of personality has crossed all limits,” he said. He also criticized the lack of Korean culture and cuisine. “I have never seen Korean cuisine in North Korea,” he said. “I feel like they lost that culture because of years of poverty and 'communist egalitarianism.'

The organization of the trip and constant surveillance also left other participants bitter: “The meticulous preparations for our visit seemed like a theatrical performance,” Elena Bychkova told CNN. “Amidst these scenes, I could not shake the feeling that North Korea also has another side, a side that is still hidden.”

Yulia Mashkova books After the trip: “I would never go there again for moral and ethical reasons,” although she speaks highly of the ski resort she visited. In another post, she described North Korea as a „totalitarian dictatorship.” The country has no tourist value. „Of course it's worth the trip. To get your dose of surprises, empathize with frightened Koreans and enjoy the contrast with their southern neighbors,” she wrote. On Instagram. I personally felt unwell, despite the overall pleasant trip.

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Escape from Putin to Germany

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Escape from Putin to Germany

Those who wanted and could have left Russia after Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine. While the Kremlin rejects exiles, these people have a great desire, says Vladimir Kaminer.

I hear Russian everywhere in German cities. It's not just refugees from eastern Ukraine who speak Russian. No, most of them are compatriots who fled Russia. In this regard, Berlin is a particularly desirable destination for these new immigrants. In the last century, many Russians fled to the German capital to escape the October Revolution, and cultural workers in particular settled here.

Most of these poets and thinkers settled in Charlottenburg and Tiergarten at that time. Many famous books by Russian authors were written and printed in Berlin at that time. In the 1920s, more Russian-language books and magazines were printed in Berlin than for local readers. My favorite book from that time is called „The Zoo. Letters Not About Love.”

(Source: Frank May)

To a person

Vladimir Kaminer Writer and columnist. He was born in Moscow in 1967 and has lived in Germany for more than 30 years. Among his most famous works isRussian discoHis current book Breakfast on the brink of the end of the world Published August 2023.

Its author lived in Charlottenburg, near the zoo, and could not sleep at night because the elephants in her enclosure snored very loudly and the nocturnal birds screamed like crazy. He wrote: „We are like strange animals in our environment in Berlin. We are stuck in the golden cage outside, but our thoughts are inside.” Soon after, he and several other artists returned to the Soviet Union. Most of them were arrested. They were put in the camp, tortured and killed.

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The author of the story „The Zoo” was lucky. He survived Stalin, and almost survived the Soviet Union, as he was old. His book describing the history of immigration at that time is now one hundred years old – and what have we learned from history? This is what the Russians ask themselves. Nothing at all, that's the answer.

Exodus to the West

The story of sudden forced migration repeats itself. Thousands of Russians were forced to leave their homeland quickly, almost overnight, in 2022, because they posed a great danger to the authoritarian state. They fled Putin's regime, from revenge and mobilization. In addition to young students who did not want to be drafted into the army, there are political activists, scholars, artists, and especially my fellow writers.

Almost all best-selling Russian authors are stranded in Europe, and quite a few of them are in Berlin. What do you do? These people continue to write books, publish anthologies and produce magazines, others open libraries, organize countless readings and conferences, but for them Berlin remains a zoo in which they sit in a cage like exotic animals. Your thoughts at home.

Two years of war passed quickly, and every day people were looking for good news from within, and after every small protest the opposition newspapers – which had long been safe from foreign countries – claimed that Putin's regime had reached the end. It actually looked like this: the fascist Kremlin could no longer hold out; Whether under sanctions or through acts of sabotage, the regime will soon be forced to surrender. Migrants can return to their homes.

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After all, we know from Hollywood movies that good always triumphs over evil in the end. Sometimes it takes an unbearably long time, but even the longest movie is usually finished after three hours. Our “war movie” has been going on for over two years, and there is still no end in sight. But hope finally dies. For a long time, in this Russian environment in Germany, it was considered bad form to describe oneself as an “immigrant.” People call themselves „Relocant”, and the term „relocation” is understood as a temporary change of place.

Borrowing from the Nazis

Meanwhile, more and more „movers” are unpacking their bags and becoming immigrants. They look around – and try to make a new start, but in their minds they are still back home, and their day begins with news from Russia. They are sad. Last year, 195,500 teachers in Russia resigned and were replaced by new “teachers.”

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