Left.ru ________________________________________________________________________________
Russia And NATO:
What Common Interests Are They Talking About?
By Vyacheslav Tetekin
"Soviet Russia" newspaper
Nov. 29, 2001

NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson has recent 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 the war crimes that the West committed in
the Balkans in 1999 cease 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 Yugoslav cities. On the other hand Slobodan
Milosevic the leader of resistance to NATO aggression, who favored an alliance
with Russia, was imprisoned with the silent consent of the Kremlin in Holland
an active NATO member.

Mr. Robertson now comes to Russia without fear of being arrested and sent to
Belgrade to serve his prison sentence. NATO Information Center, closed two years
ago, has been reopened in Moscow. It is not quite clear what is the purpose
of the Center. The "democratic" Russian press abounds with 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 Parliament the 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 it was perceived as a bad joke the man had 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 the unshakable nature of his rating and experiencing a pleasant
do-what-you-want feeling he started to turn Russia westwards in a serious way.
He closed Russian bases in Cuba and Vietnam, actively supported the 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 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 NATO's main enemy and with its admission the reason for NATO's 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 terrorism" 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 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 the Kremlin's silent
consent to the 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 actual fact there is no community of interests between Russia and NATO. The
true interests of Russia are determined not by the whims of the Kremlin temporary
leaders, but by centuries-old needs to protect the territory and the people
in a not always friendly surrounding. We need to recreate on a new basis the
union of peoples that formed the USSR. We need to reestablish friendship with
Asia, Africa and Latin America. This directly contradicts the interests of the
West that strives to prevent the resurgence of Russia as one of the poles of
the multi-polar 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, Blair 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 favor 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 aim 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 warm water ports in
the Baltics remains. NATO is certainly against. The Alliance dreams of driving
Russia away from the 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 at what is behind this. First the consequences of previous expansion.
With Poland, Hungary and the Czechs joining the Alliance it has obtained a broad
network of roads and railroads in Eastern Europe, up to 550 ammunition depots,
as well as 33 major training fields. All this allows NATO to reduce the time
of NATO forces deployment in Eastern Europe to 30 days.

The NATO threat is perceived in Russia on the basis of the experience of the
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 tank 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 just 550 combat aircraft planes of 5300
at its disposal. And even then they could have reached only the Smolensk-Bryansk-Kursk
line.

With Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic's 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's 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 take-off.

Now let's look at what will happen after the Baltic States join NATO. The military
infrastructure left there by the Soviet Army (airfields, ports, barracks, storage
facilities) will allow NATO to deploy in the Baltic states 280 thousand servicemen
and 300-400 planes and helicopters in seven days. 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 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
radar that provides control over the airspace of Russia several hundred kilometers
deep. Who needs that? Latvia? Or the NATO air force? If the Baltic States join
NATO the Russian Baltic Fleet will be cut into two and locked in Kaliningrad
and Kronstad.

In these conditions NATO does not need to deploy on the territories of 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 an 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 200-300 people, the ruling elites of these states
that have plundered property inherited from the USSR and now are adapting themselves
to the 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's statement indicating the 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 bloc. 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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