NATO’s expansion eastward and relations between Russia and the Alliance have recently returned to the international agenda. The issue is directly related to the situation in Ukraine and the tension that is registered on the Russian-Ukrainian border, some issues that were addressed during the meeting held this Thursday in Stockholm by the Russian Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State of USA
Moscow strongly criticizes NATO’s intention to expand eastward and proposes – as a de-escalation measure – to draft documents that guarantee Russia’s security in this direction, while at the Pentagon it expresses its concerns about Russia’s military activities near it. the Ukrainian borders.
“EThe nightmare scene of a military confrontation“
Regarding the expansion of the Alliance, which implies not only the acceptance of new members, but also the deployment of troops in neighboring countries of Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Moscow seeks “long-term and reliable security guarantees”, and that in talks with the US and its allies “it will insist on the elaboration of specific agreements that rule out any expansion of NATO to the east.”
The Russian president stressed that what Moscow needs are precisely legal guarantees, because Western countries have not fulfilled their verbal commitments. Putin stressed that Russia’s “legitimate security concerns” have been and continue to be ignored.
In turn, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg declared that the organization considers “unacceptable” the idea that Russia may have a sphere of interest, since its neighbors are sovereign states, and affirmed that Moscow “has no right veto or right to vote “on the issue of Ukraine’s entry into the Alliance.
Continuing discussions on the subject, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that NATO is causing a worsening of the situation on the Russian borders and that its expansion affects security of the country, while the Alliance refuses to consider Moscow’s proposals to ease tensions. In this context, Lavrov recalled that “the principle of indivisibility of security […] it states that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of the safety of others. “
The head of Russian diplomacy stressed that it is “categorically unacceptable” for Russia’s neighboring countries to become “a springboard for confrontation” with Moscow. He also maintained that there is a return “to the nightmare scenario of a military confrontation” as NATO infrastructure moves closer to the Russian borders.
“We are not a threat to Russia”
However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected the accusations that NATO constitutes any danger to Russia, stressing that the organization “represents a defensive alliance.”
“The idea that Ukraine represents a threat to Russia, or, indeed, that NATO represents a threat to Russia, is fundamentally incorrect,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, a statement from the US State Department. highlighted that Blinken “made it clear that the US and its allies are willing to impose significant costs” if Moscow “chooses the path of military escalation” vis-à-vis Ukraine.
It should be remembered that, at the beginning of November, reports appeared in the US media according to which Russia was planning to attack Ukraine and accumulating troops near the border between the two countries. Kiev initially denied this information, but later corroborated it. After that, discussions on the issue continued, but the Ukrainian authorities varied the degree of tension, periodically lowering it. Meanwhile, evidence of these preparations by Russia has not yet been presented and most of the data in this regard comes from anonymous sources.
Violation of red lines
For their part, from Moscow they repeatedly declared that they do not plan military actions on Ukrainian territory, while reiterating that the words about the alleged threat of their aggression against Ukraine are used as a pretext to deploy more units of NATO military equipment. near the Russian border.
The spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, María Zajárova, highlighted this Thursday that “NATO approached” the Russian borders and is increasing its military infrastructure, as well as conducting exercises in the region. The spokesperson reiterated in this context that NATO’s expansion eastward is “a red line” for the Kremlin. According to his words, “the continuation of Kiev’s involvement in the Alliance’s military orbit”, as well as the exploitation of the Ukrainian military infrastructure by NATO, which “began ‘de facto'”, and the intention turning Ukraine into “a springboard for confrontation against Russia” pose “serious negative consequences, a destabilization of the military-political situation in Europe.” Zakharova stressed that after the Cold War NATO promised not to expand eastward, but “these promises were forgotten and not kept.”
These statements came after Vladimir Putin affirmed on Tuesday that the deployment of attack complexes on the territory of Ukraine would mean crossing a red line. “And what should we do? Then we will have to create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in this way. And we can do it now,” the president stressed.
What do the experts say?
The head of the Asian program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, Alexander Gabuyev, told the Russian newspaper Kommersant that the Russian authorities maintain that only negotiations with the US on the situation with Ukraine make sense. “The government of Kiev depends to a great extent on Washington and it will do what they tell it from Washington,” Gabuyev says, adding that the US “has the opportunity to influence the situation.”
For his part, the senior scientist of the ‘think tank’ Rand, Sam Charap, stressed to the newspaper that the risk of an escalation between Russia and Ukraine is real, but this does not mean that there will be a war.
On opinion According to Fyodor Lukianov, president of the Russian Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, the situation around Russian-Ukrainian relations could eventually mark a “considerable milestone” in post-Cold War European history.
“We are talking about a basic principle on which politics in Europe was built after the reunification of Germany. This event should be considered as the starting point, since it was thereafter, from the decision to adhere to a Germany united to NATO, which really started the dismantling of the previous European security system, “Lukianov said.
At present, it is shaping a “tangled and inarticulate situation that is complicated by internal processes in most European countries, the US, Russia, Ukraine and other states on the periphery of Europe, “says the expert. And he concludes that these trends alter the calculations of the big players in the geopolitical arena, causing a” dangerous situation that arises as a result of the loss of understanding of what happens “.
Former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who speak On this matter this Wednesday in the framework of the Valdai discussion forum, he agreed that the escalation of tension between the military bloc and Moscow is “extremely dangerous for all and does not benefit anyone“.
Robertson urged both sides to renounce the exchange of accusations in favor of a dialogue aimed at common goals, such as climate change, terrorism, cybercrime, epidemics and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Finally, the permanent envoy of the United Kingdom to NATO in the years 2014-2016, Adam Thomson, admitted that Russia truly perceives a “certain threat” from the military alliance, although he described that position as wrong.
To overcome the “irreconcilable differences” between the two parties, Thompson said that “all of us we need more gun control and fewer strong declarations“.
- In 2008, a NATO meeting was held in Bucharest during which the Alliance promised that Ukraine and Georgia would become members of the bloc, although without specifying any specific date.
- Meanwhile, Moscow is firmly opposed to those two countries, both bordering Russia, joining the bloc.