Under the pretext of an ‘overt’ Russian threat, NATO is pushing for a ‘readiness action plan’ that will bring the Cold War military bloc closer to Russian borders than ever – even despite objections from some NATO members.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the 28-nation military bloc, which meets next week in Cardiff, Wales, would attempt to overcome internal opposition and agree to the deployment of military bases near the Russian border.
Amid the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, which is fracturing the country along east-west ideological lines, NATO is preparing to install for the first time military “reception facilities” in Eastern European countries, including Poland and the three Baltic countries: Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
“We have something already called the NATO response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed,” Rasmussen said in an interview with several European newspapers.“Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very, high readiness. In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters.”
The bottom line, according to the NATO chief, is that there will be “a more visible NATO presence in the east.”
Asked whether there would be permanent NATO presence in Eastern Europe, he said, “The brief answer is ‘yes’. To prevent misunderstanding, I use the phrase ‘for as long as necessary’. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan.”
Rasmussen, whose term expires on September 30, said the new NATO forces in Eastern Europe could be “deployed within hours.”
Needless to say, NATO’s militarization of the region will not sit well with Moscow, which has watched with increasing alarm since the collapse of the Soviet Union – despite pledges from the Western military bloc not to expand further east – as NATO continues its march towards Russia’s western border.
Currently, the Polish port city of Szczecin, which military experts anticipate will serve as one of NATO’s new “reception facilities,” represents NATO’s easternmost military presence.
Ironically, NATO’s latest enlargement plans are being opposed not just by Russia, but by its very members, some of whom do not see the point in aggravating tensions with Moscow.
It should come as no surprise that the United States and the United Kingdom, distant as they are from any potential fireworks on the European-Russian border, favor a military escalation in Eastern Europe. Other major NATO members, however, including France, Spain and Italy, have expressed serious reservations to the plans.
Meanwhile, Germany, NATO’s second strongest member, remains uncommitted to the expansion plans.
This should come as no surprise considering the recent deterioration in relations between Washington and Berlin.
Germany was forced to take a critical new look at its powerful American partner following Edward Snowden’s shocking NSA revelations, which showed massive US and UK spying on German citizens. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal mobile phone was caught up in the international surveillance net.
Remarkably, Rasmussen asserted that Russia “does not consider NATO a partner,” when it was NATO that flat-out refused Russian participation in the controversial US missile defense system, also planned for Eastern Europe. Such cooperation, had it been given the green light, would have sealed the so-called reset between the two Cold War-era foes, bringing to end years of mutual suspicion and antagonism. Instead, the US and NATO opted to keep Russia on the sidelines, ensuring nothing less than another full-blown arms race.
Speaking on the subject of Crimea’s decision to hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation under the threat of military attack by pro-Kiev forces, Rasmussen commented that “nobody had expected Russia to grab land by force.”
At the same time, the outgoing NATO chief reiterated claims – surprisingly without providing any sort of unassailable proof, in this age of advanced surveillance equipment – that Russia is actively participating in the Ukrainian upheaval.
“We have seen artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine. We have seen a Russian military buildup along the border. Quite clearly, Russia is involved in destabilizing eastern Ukraine … You see a sophisticated combination of traditional conventional warfare mixed up with information and primarily disinformation operations. It will take more than NATO to counter such hybrid warfare effectively,” Rasmussen was quoted as saying.
NATO officials, however, have admitted their intelligence is not perfect.
“We can only watch from 23 miles (37km) up,” one official told the Guardian.
Categories: Current Affairs