Putin calls out NATO’s ‘insecurity agenda’

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
 June 22, 2016. President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks at a State Duma plenary meeting. © Aleksey Nikolskyi
Russia’s repeated – and rebuffed – calls for security cooperation proves it is not Russia, but NATO which is the source of Europe’s instability and geopolitical tension.

Not for the first time, President Putin this week sought to allay fears that Russia presents a security threat to Europe and the US. He was speaking on the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Putin boldly referred to historical similarities. He pointed to how the US-led NATO military alliance is increasingly aggressive towards Russia, with the stinging implication this development by the supposedly “freedom and democracy promoting” alliance takes its precedence from the Third Reich and Operation Barbarossa.

The fact that NATO just completed its biggest-ever maneuvers in Poland this month – Operation Anaconda involved 31,000 troops – simulating an attack on Russia is not without dark historical resonance.

Putin also said the serious security threat posed by terrorism required a collective, international response. But he added that Russia’s repeated calls for collective action have been rebuffed by Western countries. He lamented the Western attitude of maintaining “bloc-like” security policies – as manifested in the form of NATO – instead of forming an international security body. And Putin compared the complacency of Western nations today on the question of cooperating in the defeat of terrorism to a similar indifference among Western states during the 1930s towards the rise of Nazi Germany.

The Russian leader told lawmakers in the State Duma: “NATO is stepping up its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions close to our borders… In these conditions we are obliged to dedicate special attention to resolving tasks connected with heightening the defense capabilities of our country.”

While Russia is beefing up its defense capabilities, Moscow’s emphasis is unmistakably on diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation – not as a partner with NATO but as a member of a genuinely multilateral security organization.

The world needs a “modern, non-bloc collective security system,” said Putin. “Russia is open to discuss this crucial issue and has more than once shown its readiness for dialogue, but, just as it happened on the eve of World War Two, we do not see a positive reaction in response.”

So, if the United States and its European allies are decidedly reluctant to refashion a new international security arrangement, what does that mean?

The obvious conclusion is that the proponents of NATO are not primarily motivated by maintaining security through cooperation. NATO proponents are more interested in perpetuating Cold War ideological divisions in the world that revolve around a mentality of “us and them”.

The creation of blocs, camps, demarcations and divisions is connected to the necessity of certain nations being compelled to dominate others and to exercise hegemony. Let’s cut to the chase: that power mindset most fittingly describes the United States which sees itself as the exceptional, superpower that must not brook any ‘rival’, meaning equal.

But, surely, equality is the essence of democracy and universal human rights? That the rulers in Washington do not fundamentally share those values is the key to understanding the source of much dysfunction in international relations and rule of law.

The NATO-bloc approach to international relations, also by necessity, creates external enemies when such enemies do not actually exist.

At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, President Putin concisely captured the nefarious logic: “NATO needs a foreign enemy; otherwise it would have no reason for the organization’s existence.”

Of course, the 28 members of NATO do have real enemies or security problems, such as jihadist terror groups and mass migration. But why NATO does not address these problems more effectively – by forming a collective, international security organization, as Russia proposes – is because the NATO leadership under the United States is much more concerned about maintaining its hegemony through carving out global divisions.

Unfortunately for Russia, it is the “foreign enemy” the US and its NATO advocates require in order to perpetuate divisions, insecurities and the very existence of NATO itself.

The tremendous paradox of this is that NATO is far from serving as the architecture for security in the North Atlantic and Europe that it purports to be. It is the source of instability and insecurity.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier last week admonished NATO for “saber-rattling” and “warmongering” with its “provocative” military exercises in Poland towards Russia. He instead called for “more dialogue and cooperation with Moscow.”

It was a remarkably refreshing admission of reality by a senior NATO member. And it is notable how this “outburst” of sanity has since been ignored by other NATO states and the Western media.

Steinmeier’s comments corroborate what Russia has long been saying; that NATO’s activities and build-up across Eastern Europe is the provocation, not alleged Russian malfeasance.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also attempted to break through the illusory NATO narrative when he said recently: “Every serious and honest politician is well aware that Russia will never invade any NATO member.”

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said constant NATO declarations about defending Baltic States and Poland from Russian aggression are “completely absurd because they are discussing a non-existent problem.”

It is absurd, but from NATO’s point of view it is completely logical. For in that logic, there resides the rationale for massive military spending that props up the US economy; the continued domineering political control by Washington over European affairs; and the rewarding American patronage for European politicians who conform to the NATO agenda.

One such politician is the former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who became NATO’s civilian titular head in 2014. He is one of the mantra-like voices warning about Russia’s threat to Europe and the need for NATO strength. One wonders what kind of salary Stoltenberg would obtain if he hadn’t the NATO gig?

Ahead of the British referendum this week on whether to stay or leave the European Union, Stoltenberg weighed in with a vigorous plea for a Remain vote. His line of argument was that Britain is an important member of NATO and the EU, and that “strength and unity” are vital for security.

Closer to the truth is that NATO’s “strength and unity” is the source of much of Europe’s insecurity. Not only has it driven Europe’s refugee crisis by its members interfering unlawfully in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq; the military organization has cynically driven a dangerous and totally unnecessary cleavage between Europe and Russia.

Putin’s inference of NATO as representing a modern-day threat following in the historical tank tracks of Nazi Germany is appropriate.

NATO’s record of propagating instability and insecurity is patent. When one considers the real, ulterior purpose of NATO at its founding in 1949 – “to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in” – this baleful legacy should not be surprising.

But the proof of the argument follows Russia’s proposal for a new collective, international security cooperation. NATO’s refusal to meet this reasonable proposal betrays its real agenda of confrontation and insecurity.

In that way, Vladimir Putin succeeded in calling out the true nature of NATO. Unwillingness speaks volumes.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.