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Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  13 December 2001

"Sovietskaya Rossia", November, 29, 2001


Russia and NATO: What Common Interest Are They Talking About?

By Vyacheslav (Slava) Tetekin


NATO secretary general lord Robertson has recently visited Moscow. What a great friendship is developing. Tears of happiness start poring at the sight of the Russian Defense Minister and NATO secretary general talking with reverence about common interests. We shall come back to the interests later but now let’s recall that just two years ago Moscow insisted that it had nothing to do with the aggressor who has attacked Yugoslavia - our strategic ally. And now NATO becomes our ally. What has changed in two years? Did war crimes that the West committed in the Balkans in 1999 ceased to be war crimes?

It seems that the Kremlin prefers to forget about these unpleasant facts. Evidently it wants to forget that Mr. Robertson is a war criminal condemned by a Belgrade court to 20 years of imprisonment for participation in murders of thousands of civilians, in the destruction of Yugoslavian cities. On the other hand Slobodan Milosevic – the leader of resistance to NATO aggression, who favoured an alliance with Russia, was imprisoned with silent consent of the Kremlin in Holland – an active NATO member.

Mr. Robertson now comes to Russia without fear to be arrested and sent to Belgrade to serve his prison sentence. NATO Information Center closed two years ago has been reopened in Moscow. It not quite clear what is the purpose of the Center. The "democratic" Russian press abounds of those keen to promote NATO's interests. And they are substantially cheaper than Western propaganda \intelligence officers serving in the Information Center.

Mr. Putin was preparing for this U-turn for a long time. While still the Russian Prime Minister he tried in December, 1999 to push through the Parliament ratification of a shameful START-2 treaty. Having become President he immediately began to sound out the idea of Russia joining NATO. But both in Russia and in the West in was perceived as a bad joke – the man has just been elected and didn't fully understand what he was talking about.

But Mr. Putin then understood things his own way - it was not yet time. Having become convinced of unshakable nature of his rating and experiencing a pleasant do-what-you-what feeling he started to turn Russia Westwards in a serious way. He closed Russian bases in Cuba and Vietnam, actively supported US war in Afghanistan, began withdrawing troops from Georgia and Transnistria. But he was struck again by a firm negative reaction of most Russians excluding of course overt Western agents of influence. Having met strong condemnation Mr. Putin declared that Russia is great without NATO and is not particularly keen to join the Alliance.

It seems to be just a temporary step aside from Gorbachev’s strategy of "integration into the civilized society". And Mr. President was not entirely wholehearted. Nobody is keen to admit us to NATO. Either among the first, or among the last ones. Russia is the main NATO enemy and with its admission the reason for NATO existence would disappear. The West needs us for other purposes.

Now back to the issue of common interests. The Kremlin and its Western partners are spreading a verbal mist about "international terrorist" as the main enemy of the world community and the target for joint struggle. This is a lie. It is a target for policy operation but not for a military bloc with nuclear weapons. The real enemies of the West are increasingly the Muslim world, China and Iran. The West is also keen to draw scores with their old but so far unattainable enemies like Cuba, Libya and Iraq. There are over 50 countries on the US list of those harboring "terrorists". And this creates important (from the US point of view) preconditions for cooperation with Russia. If previously it needed to be neutralized now there is an opportunity to co-opt it.

Let’s note that the US war in Afghanistan involves not NATO but individual NATO members. What is the difference? The difference is that for NATO participation the consent of all alliance members is necessary. And there may be problems. It is one thing to bomb Yugoslavia from comfortable European airfields and another thing to get stuck in a land war in Asia. At the same time small NATO members are hardly useful. They can send hardly a company of soldiers to a far colonial war while their anti-war movements can create a lot of trouble.

Russia is another pair of shoes. The Kremlin already helps the USA more that any NATO member by providing intelligence information and Russian air space for the US planes, by assisting the US to obtain bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan close to China. It might even offer Russian soldiers able to fight in the most difficult conditions. It is actually happening through Kremlin’s silent consent to recruitment of mercenaries in Russia.

So far there is one thing in common between NATO leadership and the Kremlin – both agree that Russia must withdraw from everywhere having shrunk (at least in international influence) to the size of the 15th century Moscow kingdom. It works well. Russian is leaving the Balkans and NATO gets entrenched there with the help of the Kremlin that contributed to the defeat of Yugoslavia - its only ally in Europe. The Western colonization of the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, of the Ukraine and Moldavia, as well as of Georgia and Azerbaijan is under way. The Kremlin has already let in be known that it will not resist.

The Americans need to get control of Central Asia – a region with very promising oil reserves. Please. Under a rapidly invented pretext of "retaliatory action" against Afghanistan Mr. Putin assists the old geopolitical opponents of Russia to penetrate this region from where the US can get not only China and India but also industrial centers of Siberia and the launching sites of our heavy missiles.

In the actual fact there is no community of interests between Russia and NATO. The true interests of Russia are determined not by whims of the Kremlin's temporary leaders but by centuries-old needs to protect the territory and the people in a not always friendly surrounding. We need to recreate at a new basis the union of peoples that formed the USSR. We need to reestablish friendship with Asia, Africa and Latin America. This directly contradict the interests of the West that strives to prevent the resurgence of Russia as one of the poles of the multipolar world. Because that breaks the already constructed scheme of exploitation of natural and human resources of Russia, countries of the former USSR and in fact of the entire world.

It is impossible to conceal these contradictions by pleasant discussion with Mr. Bush, Blaire and Robertson. Even in the "anti-terrorist operation" proclaimed the symbol of Russian - Western unity a conflict of interests immediately surfaced. The capture of Kabul by the Northern Alliance's Tajiks drastically changed the balance of forces in favour of Russia to clear displeasure of the USA.

There are older contradictions. Russia was struggling for several centuries to get access to the Baltic Sea. By the genius of Peter the Great, by the sweat and blood of the Russian people this air was achieved. Gorbachev and Yeltsin gave these lands up. And Mr. Putin is ready to agree to final closure of Peter's "window to Europe". But the historic need for Russia to get unfreezing ports in the Baltics remains. NATO is certainly against. The Alliance dreams of driving Russia away from Kaliningrad region. What common interests can one talk about?

Mr.Putin’s statement that Russia is not keen to join NATO is just a smoke screen. It hides a far more dangerous phenomenon - the Kremlin's reluctance to resist NATO's expansion to the East.

Let’s look what is behind. First the consequences of previous expansion. With Poland, Hungary and Czechs joining the Alliance it has obtained a broad network of roads and rail roads in Eastern Europe, up to 550 ammunition depots, as well as 33 major training fields. All this allows NATO to reduce time of NATO forces deployment in Eastern Europe to 30 days.

NATO threat is often perceived in Russia on the basis of the experience of German invasion of the USSR in June, 1941 – concentration of forces and then crossing the borders. In modern warfare the decisive role is played not by the infantry and tanks but by the Air force (let’s recall Iraq and Yugoslavia). To defeat Russia NATO must launch a major first attack by tactical combat planes to the depth of 600 – 1000 km from the border. With only airfields in Western Europe available NATO could have used iust 550 combat aircraft planes from 5300 at its disposal. And even then they could have reached only Smolensk – Bryansk – Kursk line.

With Poland, Hungary and Czechia admission the Alliance moved 650-750 km to the East. NATO has obtained 290 airfields, constructed by the Soviet Army. The Alliance can deploy over 3500 combat aircraft there making it possible . to attack targets up to the Volga River. Before NATO expansion it was impossible to launch a surprise attack because Russian anti-aircraft system had enough time to react. Now NATO planes can hit Kaliningrad and border regions of Russia several minutes after the take off.

Now let’s look at what will happen after Baltic States join NATO. The military infrastructure left there by the Soviet Army (airfields, ports, barracks, storage facilities) will allow NATO to deploy in Baltic states 280 thousands servicemen and 300-400 planes and helicopters in seven day. NATO tactical aircraft will be able to reach the Urals, to destroy bridges over the Volga, to hit targets (including heavy missiles launching sites and strategic air force bases) practically on the entire European part of Russia.

The territory of the Baltic States is an ideal bridgehead for major landing operation including airborne into the Russian territory behind the backs of the troops defending the Smolensk and Pskov direction. The preparation to NATO aircraft deployment in the Baltic States is going full swing. NATO Air Space control Center has been created in Vilnius ensuring deployment of NATO combat aircraft in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Poor Latvia has purchased a powerful 30 million dollars radar that provides control over the airspace of Russia several hundred kilometers deep. Who needs that? Latvia? Or NATO air force? If the Baltic States join NATO the Russian Baltic Fleet will be cut into two and locked in Kaliningrad and Kroonstad.

In these conditions NATO does not need to deploy on the territories of new members its ground forces and nuclear weapons. NATO aims in a war against Russia could be achieved by the air force using precision weapons. Despite this quite obvious threat to national security the Kremlin practically gave a go ahead to pulling the Baltic States into NATO.

The reference to alleged irresistible desire of the population of these states to join the Alliance is an open lie. The percentage of NATO enthusiasts was never particularly high. Their ranks have shrunk since the start of the war in Afghanistan. When it became clear that NATO membership might mean sending Baltic States youth to the Afghan mountains the enthusiasm dropped considerably. NATO membership is promoted by small (200-300 persons) ruling elites of these states that have plundered property inherited from the USSR and now are adapting themselves to NATO feeding line. A lot can be stolen in the process of rearming to NATO standards.

The anti-NATO expansion forces have naturally expected Russia's support. In Western Europe as well many are against allowing greedy Baltic elites to sit on their necks. But Mr.Putin statement indicating Kremlin's unwillingness to oppose NATO expansion is opening all the gates simultaneously knocking out all the arguments from the hands of NATO expansion opponents.

Mr.Robertson and his friends in Russia should not pull us by the nose by claims of community of interests. NATO is an aggressive military block. Attempts to present it as a toy bear are dangerous. In the zoos of the world many people are dying who have seen too many fairy tales about kind tigers and good crocodiles. Same thing about NATO. The crocodile of NATO’s appetite is increasing when it starts to eat. As one of the newspapers recently said: "NATO has no friends. It has only future victims".




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