World View: Russia Deploying Troops for Foreign Combat

World View: Russia Deploying Troops for Foreign Combat

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia deploying troops for foreign combat
  • Russian map makes Finnish jaws drop
  • A wild election weekend for Egypt, France and Greece
  • Egypt in political chaos after shocking court verdict dissolves Parliament
  • Spain unravels in bond panic
  • Salafist organization banned in Germany

Russia deploying troops for foreign combat

Russia’s military press are mentioning the 76th Pskov airborne division, the 15th army brigade from Samara, as well as GRU special forces from the South Military District (SMD – the Caucasus) manned by servicemen from Chechnya and the Black Sea marine brigade as being among the units preparing for expeditionary engagements outside Russia’s borders. It’s possible that they’re preparing for ground action in Syria, but it’s more likely that they’re preparing for a summer war in the Caucasus, as we’ve been reporting. Russia has been occupying, and threatening to annex, substantial regions within Georgia, and is bitterly critical of discussions leading to Georgia becoming a member of Nato. Jamestown

Russian map makes Finnish jaws drop

In a related matter, Russia’s Army General Nikolai Makarov spoke to a Finnish audience in Helsinki, Finland, and stunned his audience by announcing that a possible Finnish entry into NATO “would constitute a military threat against Russia” and that “closer military cooperation between Finland and NATO” is also a “concern.” Makarov warned Finland to cease military exercises “in the East” (near Russia’s border). He also presented a PowerPoint slide with a map of NATO’s ballistic missile defense plans in Europe that the Finns interpreted as depicting their nation and the Baltic republics inside Russia’s sphere of influence. The presentation contained a map that split Finland in two, with the eastern in Russia’s sphere of influence, and the Western part in Europe. This division distantly brings to mind the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, where the two big powers agreed to incorporate Finland and the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union’s sphere of interest. According to a researcher who attended the event, “The way the map was drawn wasn’t a complete coincidence. I wasn’t the only one who was slightly flabbergasted.” Helsinki Times

A wild election weekend for Egypt, France and Greece

Three major elections will be held this weekend. Elections in Greece may determine whether Greece remains in the eurozone. François Hollande won the presidency of France as a Socialist Party candidate, but he’ll need for his party to do well in this weekend’s parliamentary election, in order to give him the votes to implement his socialist agenda. Egypt has a presidential election this weekend, but the political scene is in turmoil, as a court has caused the parliament to be dissolved. CNN

Egypt in political chaos after shocking court verdict dissolves Parliament

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday invalidated a law denying political rights to former aides of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, thus allowing Ahmed Shafiq in Egypt’s election for president this weekend. Shafiq is expected to defeat his opponent, Mohamed Mursi, running under the banner of the Muslim Brotherhood. But the real stunning court decision on Thursday was that a third of the seats in parliament were invalid, resulting in the dissolution of parliament. These decisions have enraged young protesters in the “April 6 Movement,” who are calling the two court decisions a “coup,” because both of the decisions give additional powers to military rulers, thus empowering the “Mubarak status quo.” Egypt is entering a period of extreme political chaos, with the election of a new president this weekend, but with no parliament, a recipe for return to dictatorship. On Islam (Cairo)

Spain unravels in bond panic

I’ve written about bond panics before, particularly last year in Greece, but those panics were stopped by massive bailouts. Spain is now experiencing a bond panic, and the difference is that Spain has already gotten its bailout. On Thursday, the yield (interest rates) demanded by investors in Spain’s 10-year bonds soared briefly above 7% on Thursday, before settling at 6.91%, a record. 7% is considered a crisis level, as it’s the point where Greece, Ireland and Portugal had to receive bailouts. AP

Salafist organization banned in Germany

In recent weeks, German officials have focused a significant amount of attention on the country’s Salafists, members of a fundamentalist strain of Islam who are suspected of having close ties to Islamist extremists. On Thursday, they made their move, raiding Salafist facilities in seven German states and banning one of the most important Salafist groups in the country, the Millatu Ibrahim. In addition, two other Salafist groups have now been placed under investigation in the hopes of finding enough evidence to be able to ban them as well. Salafists have been in the headlines all spring, initially because of their drive to attract new members by handing out free Korans in major German cities. One of the groups heavily involved in that effort, known as “Die Wahre Religion” or “The True Religion,” is among those now under investigation. The founder of Die Wahre Religion, Abou Nagie, has long been under observation by German officials due to his “support for martyrdom and the jihad in the sense of using violence to ‘defend’ Islam.” Spiegel