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NATO turns 65, but loses worldwide significance — Russian experts

Moscow had spent 25 years trying to channel its cooperation with NATO in the constructive direction, but to no avail, says Chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Fyodor Lukyanov,
NATO headquarters in Brussels AP Photo/Virginia Mayo
NATO headquarters in Brussels
© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

MOSCOW, April 04. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian political scientists believe that NATO, which on Friday celebrates its 65th anniversary, is gradually giving away its original significance, and Russia will lose little or nothing, if its relationship with the Western military bloc wears out.

Fyodor Lukyanov, the chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, said Moscow had spent 25 years trying to channel its cooperation with NATO in the constructive direction, but to no avail.

“Everyone preferred to omit problems instead of scrupulously developing new solutions,” he said, commenting on NATO’s work over the last two decades.

“Moreover, the alliance’s tasks turned vague after the end of the Cold War,” Lukyanov said. “As a result, the alliance was wandering about in search of a worthy rival. In the meantime, Russia was swallowing insults one after another to eventually decide that it has had enough.”


NATO's future is "doubtful'

Lukyanov said he saw no stark confrontation between Russia and NATO at the present time, but ruled out “friendly relations in the future.”

“I believe that the alliance will now try to consolidate itself at least for a while and include new member states,” he said. “But once again, the expansion of the alliance will be more complicated than it was in the preceding 20 years, because this time it would have to take into account Russia’s interests.”

In his opinion, NATO would now mobilize its forces against the ostensibly reincarnated ‘Evil Empire’. "It would only benefit Russia. There will be no more hypocrisy that Russia has been subjected to for years."

“The further perspective of NATO’s existence is very doubtful. A so-called ‘Russian threat’ is not the factor that defines the course of world politics today, in contrast to the times of the Cold War. This is an old American and European phobia. It is of no interest either to Asia or the Middle East. I believe that NATO will be downgraded to a regional security system enjoying influence only in the east European region, and not the whole Europe,” Lukyanov said.


NATO capable of confronting 'only weak enemies'

Sergei Karaganov, the Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs with the Moscow Higher School Economics, said that NATO in the capacity of a military bloc was currently capable of confronting only weak enemies.

“NATO has accumulated numerous bureaucratic institutions and gained new member states in the Cold War era,” Karaganov, who is also a member of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, said. “However, as the Cold War ended, the alliance started looking for some other things to do… I believe that the (alliance’s) gaming around Ukraine started about a year ago.”

The expert said Russia would now have to decide whether it was feasible at all to cooperate with NATO in some ways, including the format of the Russia-NATO Council, which he described as purely “formal.”

“Personally, I see no benefits at all for Russia in its cooperation with NATO, let alone the fact that the bloc is capable of fighting only weak enemies and poses no danger at all for strong geopolitical players.”


History and recent developments

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed on April 4, 1949 as a collective defense alliance to prevent possible attacks from any external party. With its headquarters in Brussels, the alliance accounts for 28 member states across North America and Europe.

The alliance recently announced it was suspending its cooperation with Russia, citing the policies of the latter in regard to the developments in Ukraine and Crimea.

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed agreements with Russia to become its constituent members on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February that occurred after months of anti-government protests, which often turned violent.

Crimea’s merger with Russia drew an angry response from the West. The European Union jointly with the United States declared a set of sanctions against Russia.