‘Russia threat has to be invented to justify arms sales, NATO presence in Eastern Europe’
The joint Russia-Belarus strategic exercises, Zapad 2107 which are being simultaneously held in both countries, as well as the Baltic Sea, have prompted some Western officials to express concern over what they see as a threat to European security.
RT: NATO has reacted negatively to the Zapad exercises, even calling them preparation for raiding neighboring countries. Considering some NATO officials and countries have moved to play down the threat, why are Russia's drills still consistently viewed as a threat?
Neil Clark: It is interesting to look at the language that is being used. The Russian- Belarus joint operations are being described as war games and yet when we had NATO forces on Russia’s borders taking part in military exercises, the so-called operation ‘Summer Sward’ in April, these were described as very defensive measures. We’ve got a real double standard here. I think it is very interesting if we actually do a counterfactual, and reverse the situation. Just suppose it hadn’t been the Warsaw Pact which had been disbanded in the early 1990s, but in fact, it had been NATO. And instead, the Warsaw Pact had actually expanded right up to the US borders. Just imagine if Russia was carrying out military exercises now, say in Mexico or Canada. And we all know what the coverage of that would be. It is very important to see the bigger picture here. Russia and Belarus are allies, they are carrying out these exercises, they are very transparent, there are international observers there. And Russia and Belarus have got very good reasons to be carrying out these military exercises. When you look at what is happening around the world and what has happened around the world in recent years, the United States and its allies have attacked a number of sovereign nations. Those nations were allied to Russia: we are talking about Yugoslavia, we are talking about Libya, we are talking about Iraq, and we are talking about the war in Syria, too…
RT: Western media outlets were almost hysterical about the joint drills. What effect does such coverage have on public opinion? Why don't they react the same way when NATO conducts its own drills?
NC: It is quite Orwellian the way that these military exercises are being reported. If you do look at the bigger picture of what has been happening in the world in the last 20 or so years. What has happened is that the Warsaw Pact is being disbanded and NATO has expanded right up onto the Russian borders. And NATO has been holding its own exercises…in countries like Latvia bordering Russia…The threat is coming all from the one side. It has not been Russia, Russia didn’t invade Iraq, Russia didn’t bomb Libya and didn’t work for regime change in Syria. It has been the US and its allies doing this. And, of course, we’ve got America, we’ve got extreme neocons who openly for a confrontation with Russia.
The Russian authorities have every reason to be concerned. However, we are in a big propaganda situation at the moment, and the aim of this propaganda from the West is to try to turn reality on its head and to portray the country that is actually threatened, which is Russia, as the aggressor. But I don’t think it is working. I think people can see through this, all you have to do to see through this is to actually to look at the map and see where the NATO bases are and to see who is threatening whom.
RT:This July, NATO had its Sea Breeze exercises together with Ukraine. In September NATO will hold a total of 11 military exercises. Why do you think it needs to hold that many exercises? What could be behind it?
NC: I think it is important to understand how the Western military-industrial complex works. There is no Russian threat to the West. There is a NATO build up one in order to justify arms sales and defense contracts to Eastern Europe. There has been an enormous amount of business done by the US weapons companies selling arms and missile systems to countries like Poland…A Russian threat has to be invented in order to justify this and justify NATO presence in these countries close to or bordering Russia…
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