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NATO summit in Warsaw preparing biggest defense buildup since Cold War

July 08, 8:34 UTC+3 WARSAW
Sixty-five delegations from 28 NATO countries and 26 partner countries, as well as representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and NATO headquarters will arrive in Warsaw
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© ITAR-TASS/David Urbani

WARSAW, July 8. /TASS/. The Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the 28 NATO countries is opening in Warsaw, Poland on Friday at which the Alliance members will, in particular, make decisions on enhancing their capabilities on the eastern flank.

Sixty-five delegations from 28 NATO countries and 26 partner countries, as well as representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank and NATO headquarters will arrive in Warsaw.

Strategic competition with Russia

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said at an expert forum before the summit that it is necessary to admit with regret today that the Alliance has started long-term strategic competition with Russia because of the fundamental differences over Europe.

According to him, this means that the Alliance has started a new process of transformation, which is opposite to the policy that the Alliance had pursued after the Cold War. NATO is getting back to basics - the strengthening of its borders in the east.

According to the summit program, the theme of relations with Russia will be discussed on Friday on the first day of the summit during a working dinner of the heads of state and government of the Alliance in the Presidential Palace where the Warsaw Pact that until 1991 united the countries of the socialist bloc that were opposed to NATO, was signed in 1955. The leaders of the two neutral countries - NATO partners - Sweden and Finland, with which the Alliance has recently intensified talks on their NATO membership prospects, have also been invited to the dinner.

In fact, the relationship with Russia is becoming at this summit and in the foreseeable future NATO’s cross-cutting theme that to one extent or another prompted most of the decisions made by the Alliance: from the deployment of four multinational battalions in the Baltic region and in Poland, to discussing cooperation with the EU in the fight against hybrid threats.

NATO froze all practical cooperation with the Russian Federation in April 2014 - after Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The operation of the NATO-Russia Council was preserved to maintain political dialogue channels open. The current meeting of the Council will become the third after the cooperation freeze. The Council’s first meeting was held June 2, 2014, its second on April 20, 2016.

Contacts between Russia and NATO continued in other formats too. On June 17, 2014, NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels held a Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) meeting at the level of permanent representatives; on May 19, 2015, the Belgian capital hosted a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the NATO secretary-general.

Later Lavrov and Stoltenberg met twice - on September 29, 2015 in New York and on February 12, 2016 in Munich.

Summit may water down Russia-NATO founding act

The chairman of the foreign policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, Konstantin Kosachov, believes gradual watering down of the 1997 Russia-NATO founding act may become an undeclared result of the NATO summit opening in Warsaw.

"The preparations the organizers of the Warsaw summit have done were so grandiose as never after the end of the Cold War," Kosachov wrote in a column in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

"The anticipations of Warsaw" could be heard several months before the gathering, he indicated.

"The enthusiasm in the camp of the hawks, the versatile stressing of the milestone character of the event, expectations of resounding effects and, most importantly, the display of combatant unity in the ranks of the alliance for the first time since the Cold War give off an impression that NATO is reincarnating into a Warsaw Treaty Organization 2.0," Kosachev said.

"Here the heaven-sent ‘Russian aggression’ is extremely handy and the fact that no one has managed to offer any evidence of its real existence does not play any role at all," he wrote.

"The internal processes brewing up within NATO only fuel the suspicions that a gradual watering down of the 1997 Russia-NATO act will become one of the main undeclared results of the summit, and this is one more reason for serious concern," Kosachev said.

"Although virtually everyone speaks aloud about the reluctance to return to the realities of the Cold War, in practice they are doing much to return those realities into our everyday life," he said. "In the future, when the mobilizing thesis of the ‘Russian aggression’ goes to the recycling factory, further processes and dialogues will be conducted in the new - far less favorable - conditions and at a higher level of confrontation and quantities of weapons along the NATO-Russia line of contact."

Kosavchov believes NATO decision-makers will have to begin a new dialogue sooner or later so as to be able to remove the current elements of confrontations and to arrange new elements of the architecture of European security.

"The previous architecture based on NATO’s monopolism has shown its inadequacy in what concerns the settling of conflicts and has itself played the role of a generator of problems," he said.

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