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MOSCOW, April 04. /ITAR-TASS/. On the eve of the 65th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established on April 4, 1949, NATO’s leadership suspended civilian and military cooperation with Moscow following the political crisis in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
In response, Moscow declared it was recalling its chief military representative at NATO, Colonel-General Valery Yevnevich for consultations. Russia-NATO relations are in crisis, and it is a hard fact. The North Atlantic Alliance has hurried to use it for a military build-up in Eastern Europe.
Starting from 1991, when the first group of former Warsaw Treaty member-states joined NATO, and until just recently, the alliance voluntarily refrained from creating permanent bases in Eastern Europe. However, in 2009 the Baltic countries and Poland became fully integrated with NATO’s defense plans. The alliance’s military bases cropped up in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
Poland and Romania just recently agreed to host components of a US missile defense, sparking Moscow’s deep concerns.
“Alongside this, NATO countries keep arguing that all these measures fit in with their obligations under the fundamental Russia-NATO act to refrain from the deployment of significant combat forces on the permanent basis," Russia’s envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko said.
“A policy of artificially fanning tensions is not our choice. But we see no opportunity for going ahead with military cooperation with NATO as usual,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said.
The ITAR-TASS political analysis center has polled several experts asking them for their opinion of the likely implications of a suspension of cooperation with NATO and the alliance’s expansion towards Russia’s borders.
The chief of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council Fyodor Lukyanov believes that in the foreseeable future NATO will be carrying out what he described as “virtual mobilization” in the face of an alleged “Russian threat.”
“We have spent 25 years on efforts to put Russia-NATO relations on a constructive track, but very little has come of it. As a result, the alliance kept wandering from one opponent to another. At this moment, there is nothing like Cold War confrontation, but no friendly relations are anywhere near in sight, either,” Lukyanov said.
“As for NATO’s survival in the long term, it looks very doubtful. In contrast to the Cold War era situation, fears of a Russian threat are not the key factor determining world politics. This utterly irrelevant old-time phobia still felt by the Europeans and the Americans is of absolutely no interest to Asia and the Far East. I believe in the future NATO will be downgraded to a regional system of security,” Lukyanov believes.
“Russia should stay away from playing the games NATO is trying to lure it into. Generally speaking, it should give thought to the feasibility of further cooperation with the alliance as such. In particular, Moscow should make a decision whether the further functioning of the Russia-NATO Council will make sense at all. Personally, I see no benefits for Russia from its cooperation with NATO,” says the Dean of the World Economy and International Affairs Department at the Higher School of Economics, Sergei Karaganov.
Senior lecturer at the European Integration Chair at the MGIMO University of International Relations under the Russian Foreign Ministry, Aleksandr Tevdoi-Burmuli, says the alliance lost much of its strength in the 1990s and 2000s, but now, after Crimea has joined Russia, it may start building up muscle and expanding again.
“When we agreed to admit Crimea into the Russian Federation, we breathed a new meaning into the alliance’s existence. Many countries, scared of what they see as Moscow’s revanchist ambitions, pin their hopes on NATO membership as a guarantee of their security. Even Finland said it might put an end to its neutral status. We have woken up a paper tiger. Possibly it may grow into a real one some day,” Tevdoi-Burmuli said.
He sees no chance a constructive relationship with NATO may be restored in the medium term.
“Neither Russia, nor the West will agree to compromise on the Crimean issue,” the MGIMO lecturer said.
“The North Atlantic Alliance sticks to its credo cynically formulated 65 years ago - America in Europe, Germany under pressure, Russia outside Europe. That formula has been and still is geared to maintaining the United States’ presence in Western and Eastern Europe, to keeping Germany under control and fencing off Russia’s influences. At present, the number of Americans working for the alliance in the East European countries is estimated at 80,000, including 14,000 civilians, which merely confirms the United States’ intention to dominate in Europe,” Vyacheslav Nikonov, a leading expert on international affairs, told ITAR-TASS in an interview about NATO’s declaration it was suspending cooperation with Russia.
“At present, I see no chances of NATO’s expansion,” Nikonov, a member of the State Duma said. “The alliance may agree to incorporate Montenegro. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova by no means meet the alliance’s membership requirements.”
As for the possibility that NATO might deploy its missile defense in Eastern Europe, Nikonov believes this risk is quite real. In the long run, it might pose a threat to Russia’s security, a challenge Moscow should be prepared to confront.
ITAR-TASS may not share the opinions of its contributors