‘Ukraine crisis could’ve been avoided if proper decisions were made in 80’s’
Martin Packard suggests the situation was avoidable.
RT:How was this situation avoidable?
MP: Well, I worked in and with Russia from 1986 to 1991 and there was an extremely strong wish as far as I could understand at that time to achieve a closer relationship with Europe and a gradual linkage with Europe. And I was asked to help in this process. The US saw that as something that was dangerous for their long-term economic interests. And the danger was just as much in Europe tying up with Russia as it was with Russia tying up with Europe.
RT:So are you saying that the US convinced Europe that Russia was an economic threat?
MP: No, I’m saying that the United States saw or imagined that a democratic Russia, which I was told was on the cards for 1991, if that democratic Russia tied up with Europe that would present a long-term economic threat to the United States. And that was how Washington saw it, and that triggered the Washington’s very virulent opposal to…this process of Russia moving away from its old history from 1986 almost into 1991 when it was expected to have much closer tie-up with Europe. And that was very much blocked and thwarted by Washington.
RT:Do you think there was some specific event, specific policy that turned it all around?
MP: I think there was a failure by Europe to understand the degree to which change was coming. I was certainly told in 1996 at the ministerial level in Moscow all of the changes that were due to come in, and I don’t think Europe wanted very much to understand what that could mean for a new entity, a new arrangement in Europe that would’ve been immensely to the European advantage. And I think the whole concept of a closely configured Russia with Europe developing out of that past history could have given extraordinary opportunity to Europe. The fact that was thwarted and blocked has caused both the situations that we now see and also great damage to the benefits that Europe could have had.
RT:Essentially you’re saying that NATO was an American tool, aren’t you?
MP: Yes, I think NATO was very much dominated by America. Any analyst who knew anything at all, would appreciate, would have appreciated, and did appreciate at that time that Russia would not wish to have NATO lapping right up on to its borders in any sort of aggressive stance, that it would want to have a cordon sanitaire, a traditional area, in which it could see that was an area between it and what it saw as an aggressively anti-Russian NATO.
RT:As a former NATO analyst, what are the alliance's objectives in the Ukrainian crisis, as you see it?
MP: I am not part of the NATO any longer; I am not their analyst any longer. What I see is that it suits various elements both in the United States and maybe in Britain to escalate friction in Ukraine. I think this is a period when everybody is trying to get more money out of their exchequers for upping the rearmament. So that seems to be so in Britain, probably in America too. Military forces in a way need to have an enemy. It suits them to have an enemy.
… What I addressed in my letter to The Guardian was the fact that I think of all this current situation… of demonization of Russia, the demonization of Mr. Putin, could have been avoided if proper decisions have been taken in the 1980s.
RT:Was Ukraine mentioned in the 1980’s when you were working as a NATO intelligence officer?
MP: My time as an intelligence officer goes back much further than NATO. It was in the 1960’s. In the 1980’s I was simply working as a businessman in Russia.
In the 1960’s when I was involved in intelligence analysis, certainly, Ukraine and Russia at that stage were very much a single entity that NATO regarded as a part of its target. What happened in the 1980’s subsequent to the breakup of the old Soviet Union. I think NATO saw Ukraine then as a potential adjunct as somewhere both they could exercise influence, but also which eventually they could move closer to NATO. This was extremely bad thinking. But that was a part of a misplaced analysis. It should have been recognized that they should have supported entirely independent Ukraine and NATO should not have tried to encroach into the Ukrainian situation.
There is one thing more I feel strongly about, and that is the extraordinary hypocrisy of the American- British positions in this situation. I was also heavily involved with Cyprus. In Cyprus the Americans and the British encouraged the intervention of another powerful outside entity that was Turkey. Turkey illegally occupied the north of Cyprus. And all of this time Britain and America basically have done nothing to terminate that occupation. On the back of that for them to go pontificating about other people’s intervention in Ukraine I found extremely hypocritical.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.