The Czechs fear Russian military might, felt betrayed by Obama’s effective cancellation of the anti-missile defense program to counter the perceived threat, and — in lieu of a significant role in the area of BMD — wanted Washington to give them (and other CEE NATO partners) a better deal on US-made F-16s fighter jets, leaked Stratfor emails show
An exchange of confidential emails between analysts and an undercover intelligence officer working for the Texas-based global intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (more commonly known as Stratfor) appears to show the Czech Republic this autumn was ready to issue an “ultimatum” to Washington demanding a better deal on F-16 supersonic fighter jets for itself and NATO members from Central and Eastern Europe — or a significant role for Prague in the planned US anti-missile defense project to counter the “large threat” of Russia.
“If the [Czech Republic] can’t get [Washington’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)] plans or the F-16 deal, then it is done with any non-Eurasian commitments to NATO. Period. If [the Czech Republic] can get [BMD] or the F-16s, then it will pretty much agree to any sort of military commitment the US wants anywhere in the world. That is the ultimatum.” — reads an excerpt from the Stratfor report, based on talks with an unidentified deputy to the Czech Ambassador in Washington (Petr Gandalovič) since promoted to deputy foreign minister and a Czech security attaché, among other sources. The statements within the report, however, are not attributed.
The threat to stop cooperating with Washington on NATO missions outside of Eurasia — if the Czech Republic doesn’t get cheap F-16s or is not given a significant role in Washington’s BMD plans — stems from the fear of Russian military might, frustration over the Obama Administration’s cancellation of plans to install a radar station on Czech soil as part of a European anti-missile defense system and, at the same time, the cash-strapped Czech government’s desire to modernize its air force.
The Stratfor email exchange pointing to the possibility of a Czech “ultimatum” was made public on Monday by WikiLeaks, which today began publishing the first of what the controversial whistle-blower group promises will be more than 5 million confidential emails from the global intelligence firm — whose servers were hacked by the groups Anonymous and LulzSec over this past Christmas as part of “Operation AntiSec” targeting both private and government security and intelligence sources.
The Internet “hackivist” groups claimed to have stolen 200 gigabytes of data from Stratfor, including some 500,000 internal emails and nearly 90,000 emails with the “.gov” and “.mil” domains in use by the US government and military, respectively — along with some 40,000 encrypted passwords, opening the door to further security breaches.
Stratfor said in a statement ahead of WikiLeaks’ launch on Monday of the “Global Intelligence Files” that the company would not comment as to whether the emails were authentic or accurate. “Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” it said.
Russia as a ‘large threat’
Among the leaked correspondence already published under the “Global Intelligence Files” heading — which Wikileaks promises will reveal Stratfor’s “web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods” — is the email exchange warning of a Czech “ultimatum” over BMD and F-16s, written two years after President Barack Obama in late 2009 scrapped plans to install an anti-missile defense system in Europe.
The exchange took place on Sept. 2, 2011, between Eugene Chausovsky, a Eurasia analyst at Stratfor, and one of the think tank’s undercover intelligence officers (or “watch officers”), Mark Lanthemann, who both comment on an attached report signed by the firm’s Senior Eurasia Analyst, Lauren Goodrich, that appears to directly quote highly placed Czech officials.
In the report — based on Stratfor’s sources in Washington and Prague, including the then deputy to Czech Ambassador to the US Petr Gandalovič and a Czech security attaché — the sources complain about confusion as to what President George W Bush’s administration wanted from the center-right government (then headed by Civic Democrat (ODS) prime minister Mirek Topolánek).
The Stratfor report also addresses the current ODS-led government’s resentment over Obama’s scrapping of the missile defense project, which would have seen 10 interceptor rockets installed in Poland to complement the proposed radar station on Czech soil, and which the source says is part of a necessary effort to contain the Russian “threat.”
“The CEs [Central European countries] need NATO. Plain and simple. They need a functional NATO. And they need NATO to return to its primary focus — containment of the large threat (Russia), and protection of the NATO land (them). Containment has to be the primary focus for NATO. No matter who you are, if you’re in NATO, you need to understand this.
“CzR [The Czech Republic] doesn’t see NATO doing this with tanks, like before. It will do this with missile defense and military projects (F16s-see below). Planting NATO’s flag on CE soil. So that Russia cannot do that instead.”
Goodrich’s report shows the frustration the Czechs felt after the Obama Administration — not wanting to antagonize Russia further with installing the BMD in Central Europe — began shopping around for other locations, such as in Romania and Turkey, for the anti-missile defense project.