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NATO’s Rasmussen masters Cold War rhetoric

June 25, 2014, 16:08 UTC+3 Litovkin Viktor
NATO Secretary and General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (L) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) presents the NATO Wales Summit, during the NATO Foreign ministers council in Brussels, Belgium

NATO Secretary and General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (L) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (R) presents the NATO Wales Summit, during the NATO Foreign ministers council in Brussels, Belgium

© EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

MOSCOW, June 25. /ITAR-TASS/. NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has come up with a number of harshly worded statements addressed to Russia at a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

For instance, he said that NATO saw “no signs that Russia is respecting its international commitments” over Ukraine. One cannot but take note of the fact that the statement comes the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the Federation Council to rescind its consent to the use of military force in Ukraine. Rasmussen interpreted that request as a new type of military tactic against Ukraine. NATO’s chief did not bother to explain what the gist of that tactic was, though. He merely added that NATO’s foreign ministers would consider the alliance’s likely response to security threats allegedly coming from Russia.

One might have made certain allowances for what Mr. Rasmussen said, bearing in mind that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin is present at the meeting of NATO’s foreign ministers, and that these statements are geared first and foremost to bolstering his own morale and the moral of Ukraine’s other new officials. But the point is Rasmussen has been heard utter such Cold War-style statements about security threats from Russia to Ukraine and to NATO’s European members many a time.

A week ago, at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London, he said again he saw Moscow’s hand at work in fuelling tensions in the east of Ukraine. He even dared accuse Russia of trying to influence ecological non-governmental organizations in a bid to upset plans for developing shale gas deposits in Europe, which even drew an ironic remark from a Greenpeace spokesman: “The idea ... is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they are smoking over at NATO headquarters.”

Sounds funny enough, but Mr. Rasmussen can hardly be suspected of hallucinating after taking a deep drag. Behind his words one finds a very practical intention to shake up the leaderships of the alliance’s member-states, to point to a specific enemy they should seek protection from, to make them hold more exercises, build military bases and put far more financial muscle than they have been investing so far into the alliance’s combat structures and acquire new military equipment for their armies. It is common knowledge the European countries are very reluctant to spend on defense, for they are well aware nobody is going to attack them. While the United States accounts for 72% of the alliance’s budget and spends on military purposes 4.7% of its own GDP, their allies in the Old World, such as France, Greece and Britain are prepared to spend on defense no more than two percent of their GPD, and most of other allies, still less, 1.6%

How can they be made to spend more? A Russian military threat is the sole argument that may persuade them. This is precisely why Rasmussen never misses an opportunity to accuse Russia in public of undermining the world order and to declare that NATO has already taken urgent steps to protect the allies. Possibly, for this reason, as Rasmussen has said, and the forthcoming summit in Wales, Britain NATO is going to intensify its eastward expansion. Intensive negotiations with Monte Negro will be started with the aim to incorporate it in the alliance by the end of 2015. A substantive package will be developed for Georgia that will help it come closer to NATO.

Rasmussen did not say when exactly that might happen, though. Apparently, not very soon. Anti-Russian rhetoric smacking of the Cold War era and promises to open NATO’s military umbrella over all those allegedly being threatened by Moscow, on the one hand, and real politics, on the other, are miles apart. In reality NATO does not need Georiga, Moldova and Ukraine, with their territorial problems and related major military risks. As for words, words alone are worthless.

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