In 2007 the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, asserted during the Munich Security Conference that with its expansion, in violation of its promises, NATO was threatening his country and reducing the level of mutual trust.
The Kremlin’s worries were ignored and shortly afterwards, in 2008, the alliance officially started the process to add Ukraine, a nation bordering the Russian Federation, to its number.
With this goal, among others, the Western powers promoted a coup d’etat in Kyiv in 2014.
From the beginning of 2022, the United States began deploying thousands of military personnel in Eastern Europe and the threat to Russian national security intensified. In the early hours of 24th February, Moscow launched a special military operation in the autonomous region of Donbas after the authorities in the People’s Republics of Donetsk (PRD) and Lugansk (PRL) requested help repelling Kyiv’s aggression.
According to Putin, the purpose was to protect the region’s population, as well as to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘denazify’ Ukraine.
On 25th February, NATO announced that it would position more ground troops on the border with Russia, along with air and sea units, and that, for the first time, it would deploy its Rapid Response Force.
To clarify the true nature of the Atlantic alliance, its current actions and the role played by Washington, we interviewed the doctor of science Nelson Roque Suastegui, lecturer and specialist in European military affairs at Cuba’s International Politics Research Centre.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was founded on 4th April 1949 in a context in which the Soviet Union was considered global capitalism’s only potential enemy, after the end of the Second World War four years previously.
According to the public text of the Treaty of Washington or the NATO Treaty, the organisation’s objectives are “to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples”, as well as “to guarantee, by means of collective defence, the preservation of peace and security.”
But although the treaty does not allude to a specific enemy, it was clear that, in the judgement of the United States and the Europeans, the threat to peace and stability in the area and in the world came from the Soviet Union.
It was a case of one socialist nation that the capitalist powers could not drown when it was trying to establish itself, nor could they prevent its unquestionable victory over German fascism and the Japanese empire in that military conflict.
An unwritten aim of great strategic importance for the United States was to introduce itself into the European economy and to neutralise the creation on the old continent of a military power base that could compete with it in the long term.
How can we explain the fact that following the disappearance of the USSR and therefore the argument supporting the supposed threat, the membership of the military alliance was broadened and its objectives renewed, with participation in conflicts outside the European theatre of operations?
The United States made a large long-term investment in a powerful organisation that responded to its interests in Europe over a long period and it had no intention of dissolving it, since it could help it achieve other strategic objectives in the Atlantic area and beyond.
Among the changes to the strategy and the so-called principles of the organisation is the idea that instability or conflicts beyond the borders of NATO countries could directly threaten the alliance’s security.
A very clear example was the war against Afghanistan, where the United States asked for the military bloc’s participation by triggering – for the first and only time so far – article five of the Treaty of Washington, which holds that an attack on one of the allies will be considered an attack against all of them.
The broadening of the membership responds to the strategy of making the organisation more powerful with more bases, more ports, more airports, more fronts on which to deploy its forces in the European theatre of operations, and of simultaneously buying more weaponry to the advantage of the United States’ military-industrial complex.
As its principal objective, then, NATO sets out to add countries that were Soviet republics or members of the ‘socialist camp’ to set them against Russia, inheritor of Soviet military might and, although capitalist, with an independent politics in no way subordinate to the designs of the empire.
It also aims to be a global organisation encompassing countries in different areas of the world as partners. In this way, between the 30 members and the partners there are over 70 nations involved with NATO one way or another, among them Brazil and Colombia.
Do the United States and NATO leaders consider the European Union’s development of its own regional defence system announced at the end of 2021 to be a threat to the alliance’s future?
The leaders of the European Union realised some time ago that the United States uses them to resolve problems to guarantee their own interests, as happened with the Gulf War and the subsequent occupation of Iraq. We have another example in the intervention over 20 years in Afghanistan, from where the Pentagon and NATO withdrew recently after what many analysts consider a defeat.
The United States does not look well on the creation of a parallel force to NATO, although they do not say so openly but use other means to ward off possible competition.
Recently the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, commented that after the Cold War the Atlantic alliance took on a more offensive nature. What is your assessment of NATO’s current actions against Russia perceived by Moscow as a threat to its security?
In 1990, representatives of the United States gave verbal assurances to the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastwards. However, since 1999 the alliance has added Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia to its number. In 2008, NATO approved a plan to prepare Ukraine’s future entry into the alliance under the government installed after the “orange revolution” of 2004.
In 2014 the United States, supported by the European Union, promoted a coup d’etat against the then Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovich, who, on assuming the presidency, had refused to participate in any military alliance.
The majority of the population of the Crimean peninsula declared themselves against this coup d’etat and demanded that Crimea be reincorporated into Russia, which happened following a referendum, the results of which Moscow accepted and which led to the region being proclaimed a Russian republic.
Elsewhere, Kyiv unleashed a fratricidal war costing thousands of lives against the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose populations are mainly of Russian origin.
Relations between Russia and NATO deteriorated, the alliance cut off all links with the Kremlin permanently and began to increase its troop numbers near the Russian border from around 13,000 to over 45,000 personnel.
The taking of military action is related to the protection of Moscow from those who have taken Ukraine hostage and are trying to use it against Russia and its people.
The alliance’s continual expansion eastwards is unacceptable because of the danger to Russian national security represented by Kyiv’s intention to increase its militarisation and acquire nuclear weapons.
NATO’s provocations of Russia reached an inadmissible level, which represents a grave danger because a mistake by either side could set off a confrontation of unpredictable magnitude. (PL)