ROME, July 12. /TASS/. Despite militarily beefing up the alliance’s eastern border, leading NATO members, such as the US and Germany have demonstrated that dialogue with Russia remains a priority for them, an Italian expert told TASS Tuesday.
"NATO member countries had to reassure their eastern partners, yet at the same time they reiterated that dialogue with Russia remains a priority for them. And NATO’s leading members - the United States and Germany - have demonstrated a greater readiness for dialogue than ever before," said Lucio Caracciolo, director of the Italian geopolitical monthly magazine, Limes.
He said that the deployment of four NATO battalions on the alliance’s eastern borders in Poland and the Baltic states is "a minimal response to allay the fears these countries, which had expected much more." "It was the least that could have been done. Four thousand servicemen deployed on a rotational basis, can in no way tilt the region’s strategic balance. Poland and the Baltics still remain dissatisfied as they had expected more servicemen and weapons to be deployed," he said.
However, in his opinion, risks should not be underestimated as a larger military presence entails greater risks of incidents that might provoke "a war no one needs."
"A minor incident might be enough. NATO and Russian fighter jets have already had very close calls. I am afraid an incident might happen, bearing in mind that currently military consultations between NATO and Russia are rather limited," Caracciolo said.
According to the expert, it would be too optimistic "to think that relations with Russia are completely under control." Nevertheless, he said he hoped that despite all of its rhetoric, the Russian side "fully understands and is aware of what is going on in NATO." In his words, Italy cannot be more assertive in advocating its "favorable position towards Russia" because it has "extremely close relations with the United States" and "would never dare to sever them."
At the Warsaw summit on July 8, leaders of NATO’s 28 member states decided to extend the alliance’s presence in its eastern zone and deploy four battalions to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on a rotational basis. Italy said it would send 150 servicemen, while the US (1,000 servicemen) and the UK (650 servicemen) will send the largest contingents.