Den Russiske Føderasjons Ambassade i Norge
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22 апреля

Realities and myths of NATO

NATO is the most successful alliance in history

Such an assessment is subjective and biased. Only results should be a measure of success. In effect, NATO has just served its original purpose – “to keep Americans in, Germans down and Russians out”, as Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, the first NATO Secretary General, once put it.

NATO countries take credit for winning the Cold War. However, it would have been impossible to put an end to it without the USSR's consent to the unification of Germany as well as Moscow's efforts to reduce arms and dismantle the legacy of the Cold War confrontation.

Attempts to adapt NATO to the tasks of the post-Cold War era, such as countering new challenges, failed because they did not lead to an inner transformation of the alliance. NATO will long be associated with the destabilization of the Balkans in the 1990s, reckless military undertakings in Yugoslavia and Libya, a protracted and fruitless campaign in Afghanistan. These actions led to numerous civilian casualties, infrastructure and economic damage, de jure or de facto disintegration of states. Moreover, they undermined the fundamental principles of international law. This can hardly be called a success.

As inability to find a new valid raison-d’être for NATO became clear, it was decided to revive its original agenda of consolidating Western countries against an imaginary common threat. But here again, NATO's “achievements” , which are the militarization of Europe, increased tensions, complicity in the breakdown of strategic stability fundamentals, in no way contribute to the main task of any military union – ensuring security of the peoples of its member states.

NATO is a purely defensive alliance

This statement, often used by the NATO leadership, is refuted by alliance's aggressive actions against Yugoslavia in 1999 and Libya in 2011.

NATO's most powerful collective military capabilities, its record of confrontational rhetoric and its actions against Russia – all these facts give us no good reason to trust assertions about its purely defensive nature. In effect, NATO's history is a history of military interventions.

NATO is a source of legitimacy

Efforts to replace the international law with «NATO’s legitimacy» provoked today's crisis of the European security.

NATO leadership has laid out this principle in full. "Only NATO delivers the political legitimacy and military strength that no one nation or ad-hoc coalition can deliver on its own", said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his address at the Washington Brookings Institution on March 19, 2014.

NATO member states have repeatedly violated international law (Yugoslavia) and abused the UN mandate (Kosovo, Libya). This speaks for their commitment to an abstract "rules-based order" which is in fact intended to maintain the best interests of the “largest alliance of democracies” and relies on their formidable military, economic, and information capabilities.

NATO’s mission is to counter threats coming from any direction
(360-degree approach to security)

NATO is focused on countering the fictional “threat from the East” – the alliance deploys its troops near Russia's borders, modernizes its infrastructure to ensure quick deployment of reinforcements (“military mobility”), and conducts large-scale exercises. During the strategic “Trident Juncture-2018” exercise more than 50,000 personnel practiced a full range of offensive and defensive actions at low temperatures.

Nothing similar is happening on the southern flank. Not long ago, after a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, international terrorism was declared the main threat to security, and the public received assurances that NATO was ready to do everything possible to eradicate it. Today European NATO members, under pressure from Washington, are building up their capacity to counter a “standard conventional” military threat that actually does not exist.

Military preparations of NATO countries are not directed against Russia

NATO's military planning is being adapted to counter “peer competitors” in high-intensity conflicts, with eastern “flank” being a priority. The alliance is stepping up its efforts to enhance combat troop readiness, their mobility and rapid response capability. It’s upgrading its command and control structures, logistics support mechanisms and infrastructure, establishing arms and military equipment storage depots. NATO has significantly intensified its activities in the Baltic and Black Sea regions as well as in the Arctic.

NATO countries have intensified its military exercises; they are honing both defensive and offensive skills in all operational environments – land, air, sea as well as cyberspace. These exercises involve nuclear-capable aircraft carriers, including strategic ones.

A multinational force of 10-12,000 personnel is deployed in regions adjacent to Russia on a continuous rotational basis. This number does not include armed forces of the European countries and 65,000 U.S. servicemen permanently deployed in Europe. Currently, the total number of armed forces of NATO member states is more than 3 million people (US armed forces have more than

1.3 million service members).

Military measures are accompanied by economic pressure, anti-Russian propaganda and expulsions of diplomats. In other words, NATO is setting the basis for exerting long-term psychological pressure and playing power politics against our country.

NATO and its member states leadership’s claims that “the alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia” are unconvincing. They could have proven the sincerity of their intentions by making their political commitments within the OSCE legally binding in order to build a common and indivisible security space. However, the Russian initiative to conclude the

European Security Treaty was ignored by NATO countries long before the Ukrainian crisis.

Military actions taken by NATO countries on the eastern flank were triggered by developments in Ukraine and Crimea in 2014

The West had adopted its policy aimed at destroying the international legal order and the system of checks and balances in the area of global and regional security long before even the background for the internal Ukrainian crisis was set. This refers to violating the international law numerous times, advancing military forces closer to our borders, expanding military infrastructure in NATO’s new member countries, engaging in new forms of military activities, creating the European segment of the US global missile defense system, and involving non-nuclear countries in nuclear exercises under NATO’s aegis.

NATO members did not support any of Russia's initiatives aimed at creating a common and indivisible security space in Europe and reducing the role of the use of force. They refused to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty, ignored the European Security Treaty initiative, and failed to provide guarantees that the missile defense system would not be aimed at Russian strategic nuclear forces. Moreover, their activities undermined strategic stability long before developments in Ukraine and Georgia took place. For instance, the U.S. denounced the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002.

The Ukrainian crisis and anti-Russian "horror stories" are used only as a pretext for destructive course to militarize Europe at the expense of European taxpayers.

NATO projects stability in the neighboring regions

NATO members first create problems and then help "solve" them. Al Qaeda emerged after the United States had used Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to achieve their short-term objectives (so-called freedom fighter Osama bin Laden became "terrorist №1"). The intervention in Iraq has resulted in the emergence of the ISIS. The operation in Libya pushed the country to the brink of disintegration and fostered the migration crisis. Afterwards NATO offered these countries its “assistance”.

The negative consequences of "projecting stability" in Yugoslavia, Libya and Afghanistan have not been overcome yet.

NATO did not promise Russia not to expand eastward

According to the records of our archives which were confirmed by researches of foreign historians there were promises not to expand NATO that were made, in some case even publicly. However, today NATO prefers not to recall them.

During negotiations over the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany the leaders of NATO member-states reassured Soviet authorities that they don’t have any plans for enlargement to the East. Documental proof of the reassurances made by western leaders can be found in declassified records of conversations of Mikhail Gorbachev with the Secretary of State James Baker (February 9, 1990), the Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl (February 10, 1990) and the President of France Francois Mitterrand (May 6, 1991).

These assurances were not put on paper, but it was a gentlemen’s agreement which was later flagrantly violated. This is an eloquent testimony to the "credibility" of NATO's verbal guarantees.

NATO enlargement has strengthened European security

NATO enlargement eastwards is one of the key causes for the current European security crisis. The implementation of a vision of a united Europe free from dividing lines and zones with different security levels outlined in the Charter of Paris for a New Europe in 1990 was the alternative option. This project could have been based on the CSCE, which at that time was in the process of transforming into the OSCE.

Instead of a unifying scheme which, following the example of the French and German reconciliation, could have ensured lasting peace and cooperation between the USA and Russia and further across the Euro-Atlantic area, the Western countries had chosen the strategy of expanding the area of Western exclusive influence under the NATO flag.

NATO enlargement promotes stability and security along the Russian border

For many years we’ve been receiving assurances that the membership of the Central and Eastern European countries in NATO will improve relations with

Moscow, relieve them from “heavy historical legacy” and create a “belt” of Russia-friendly countries. These affirmations turned out to be a fantasy. On the contrary, today the security policy of these countries is based on the idea that there is a need for their special protection. NATO enlargement has only aggravated the syndrome of “front-line states” and created preconditions for a new Iron Curtain – from the Western side.

Russia made a crucial contribution to the elimination of the material legacy of the confrontation era. We withdrew forces from Eastern Europe which was a significant factor in strengthening European security. Whereas NATO nowadays is undertaking a military build-up in the region.

A free choice by countries to join NATO cannot be provocative

In the absence of a military threat for Eastern European and Balkan countries, their alliance membership can only be considered as a tool for extending NATO’s military and political influence. NATO is expanding military infrastructure in its new member states for the deployment of military capabilities directed against Russia. We perceive this as a provocation.

According to the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, the alliance committed itself to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the tasks that it faces. The characteristics of the actual infrastructure now in place reveal its true purpose. The same Act states that "reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defense against a threat of aggression and missions in support of peace consistent with the United Nations Charter and the OSCE governing principles as well as for exercises consistent with the adapted CFE Treaty". There is no threat of aggression from Russia. There are also no missions in support of peace with NATO participation in this European subregion.  

The best way to ensure security of European countries has been and remains an establishment of mutually beneficial and equitable relationships with their neighbors in both Eastern and Western Europe.

Accession to NATO is a free choice

New members might be dragged into NATO without duly consulting the people (Montenegro, 2017) or against the results of a national referendum (North Macedonia). Decisions to accept new members into NATO have been and are still politically motivated.

Russia is a threat to the security of "front-line" NATO member countries

Bearing in mind incidents caused by inadequately high military activity, it looks like the real threat for the "front-line" countries comes from themselves. NATO soldiers get into accidents, start drunken fights and rows, accidentally fire missiles (in August 2018 in Estonia). This trend is becoming more widespread in the Northern Europe as well – in November 2018 Royal Norwegian Navy frigate Helge Ingstad collided with an oil tanker as it was returning from a large-scale NATO strategic military exercise Trident Juncture hosted by Norway. Its torpedoes were disposed at sea instead of a specialized facility.

Russia does not notify its military exercises and invite international observers to monitor them

Russia is the most monitored OSCE participating-State.

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation holds regular briefings on its exercises, including for foreign military attachés in Moscow as well as at the OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation and NATO-Russia Council (NRC). In 2018 15 briefings on scheduled and snap military exercises were organized at various venues in Moscow, Brussels, and Vienna. Moreover, we invite international observers to monitor our exercises, including those below the

Vienna Document 2011 thresholds. About a 100 military attachés, including a representative of the NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow, were invited to the Vostok 2018 exercise.

NATO countries must spend more on defense to address pressing security challenges

There is no reasonable explanation for the need to increase defense spending. In 2018, the joint military spending of NATO countries (over 1 trillion USD) was 22 times bigger than the Russian defense budget (46 billion USD), and exceeded half of global military spending.

In 2016-2020, the expenses of European countries and Canada are expected to increase by a total of 100 billion USD. European members of the alliance are expected to implement expensive rearmament programs largely by purchasing US military products.

Unlike NATO countries, Russia is reducing its defense spending.

NATO is the largest alliance of democracies

NATO countries have repeatedly violated international law in their military interventions in Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan as well as by interfering into the internal affairs of sovereign countries. For instance, in Ukraine they backed the coup d’etat and exerted pressure on Viktor Yanukovich, forced the Kiev regime to adopt certain laws; in North Macedonia they ignored the results of the referendum, promising various benefits for making "the right choice", the U.S. diplomatic mission directly intervened in the parliamentary voting.

Instead of respecting international law, NATO countries try to replace it with a rules-based order they have invented themselves.

What is more, NATO countries do not prosecute their citizens for crimes committed during the alliance's military campaigns.

NATO is interested in a dialogue with Russia

NATO officials talk about a so-called dual-track approach to Russia combining "dialogue and deterrence", but a clear tilt towards deterrence is evident. There is virtually no meaningful dialogue yielding tangible results.

In 2014 the alliance suspended all practical cooperation, including numerous NATO-Russia Council projects in Afghanistan as well as on counterterrorism. There is no positive agenda in the NATO-Russia relations today.

In 2016, NRC resumed meetings at the level of ambassadors. However, the alliance continues to avoid discussion on de-escalation of tensions.