‘Increasing US presence in Europe signals very dangerous period of national rivalry’
RT:President Obama has asked Congress for 1 billion dollars to boost US presence in Europe. Why now?
John Rees: It is obvious that the immediate background to this is the crisis in Ukraine. What that signals is that we are into a much more dangerous period of interstate rivalry even than the period of the war on terror. In the war on terror, by and large, the major states of the world agreed or, perhaps reluctantly, allowed the Americans to carry out operations with their allies against very tiny states in the world. But we are now in the situation where the Russian state, the Chinese state, the American state and its European allies are beginning to move into conflict among themselves. They all have their own interests of course. But the American state is by far the biggest arms spender in the world, with its allies it has over 50 percent of the total arms budget of the world, and it is in expansionist mood.
RT:Are we going to see Washington provide Kiev with full-scale military aid?
JR: I doubt it. But I do not think that they are providing quite a lot that's short of that. And critically there is Operation Rapid Trident, which is the joint US, UK and Ukrainian military exercise on Ukrainian soil, which is due to take place next month. This is an exercise that has taken place in one form or another since 1997, so it is part of NATO's eastern expansion. I cannot think of anything more dangerous in the current circumstances than to have a deployment of UK and US troops alongside Ukrainian troops this summer. There are many people in this country who I think are deeply unhappy about the prospect.
RT:Do Europeans think that an increased US presence is necessary?
JR: I do not think many people really buy it. They think that what has happened is that the Russian state is defending its interests and has its own economic and political agenda. What we are seeing now is fundamentally a response to the period after the Cold War in which NATO has moved eastwards and now, in an almost literal sense, has its tanks on the lawn of the Russian state.
RT:NATO's been telling Moscow its expansion is not targeting Russia, but insist that Russia should remove its troops from the border with Ukraine. How does that match their words?
JR: This is the danger in the situation. Obviously, the Russian state does not want to let go, does not want to see fully independent states around its borders. If fully independent states were what was on offer I think many people in the world would say that it was a good idea, but fully independent states is not what is on offer. What is on offer is an EU-NATO protectorate run from Kiev. I think that the current constitution of the Kiev government is truly frightening - here we have a mixture of incredibly wealthy oligarchs and some of the ministerial posts are held by neo-fascists. Nobody can look on that kind of development and think that what's happening here is some kind of neutral, inclusive, warm, cuddly European project. It is simply isn't.
RT:Washington insists Ukraine should solve its problems by itself, yet is constantly involved in its affairs. Why is the White House so interested in Ukraine?
JR: The neo-conservative project had as its first goal when it was formulated in the 1990s, and even higher-up its agenda than the Middle East, was not to allow the Russian state to reoccupy any of the ground of the old Soviet empire. All of us want to see genuinely independent democratic states, it would be an advance for democracy and for peace if that was what would happen in Ukraine, and everybody must hope that will happen. But for that to happen the superpowers have to get out, the Russians have to get out, but the Americans are the ones who have been pushing this agenda. It's their military alliance which has been expanding East, and not the other way round. You can imagine what would be happening if it had not been the Warsaw Pact which disappeared after the Cold War, but NATO, or what would happen if France, Spain or Scotland would consider joining the Warsaw Pact. Nobody can imagine this scenario.
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