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WASHINGTON, October 2 /TASS/. NATO should find a way of staying good neighbors with Russia, General Knud Bartels, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, told a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Thursday.
"Not only do we have to deal with a potential threat from Russia but we also have to find a way of staying good neighbors with Russia even though it might be difficult from time to all,” General Bartels said commenting on the current state of NATO’s relations with Moscow.
He admitted that Russia’s relations with the West had aggravated seriously in 2008 and in the current years due to the two parties’ inability to understand each other.
"I do happen to be interested in what Russians think and believe, and I’ve spent a substantial amount of years of my professional life studying first the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact and then Russia,” the general said, advising NATO and the West to try to look at the world through Moscow’s eyes from time to time.
“I do think it’s a necessity to turn around a map and look at the world seen from Moscow be itself or be it West or what that matter East and not so difficult North when we talk about high North. So, that’s a first thing I would like to say,” General Bartels who is currently on a visit to Washington said.
“The second thing I would like to say is that military force was used by Russia,” Bartels said as he spoke about the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. “Maybe due to our inability to understand each other, which I think is one of the fundamental issues, or the lack of willingness to understand each other, but military force was used by Russia. It was not forced by NATO,” the NATO general went on to say.
Then he made a short excursus to history. “I attended US Army War College in 1993-1994. And one of the last speakers we had was then-newly promoted Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General (John) Shalikashvili. He said in 1994 that great challenge of the coming years is to get a relation with Russia right. We probably didn’t,” the chairman of the NATO Military Committee said.
“But when you address such as issue you need to look at it from both sides and I have not heard many Russian voices express concerns at potential mistakes from Russian side,” General Bartels said in conclusion.