Russia-China exercises a 'natural response' to US-NATO military advances

Russia-China exercises a 'natural response' to US-NATO military advances
The West should recognize that if NATO is going to expand to the border of Smolensk, that is going to worry the Russians; Also the Russian-Chinese alliance has got the potential to offset America in the terms of military, says political analyst Chris Bambery.

The first ever joint Russia-China drills in European waters started in the Baltic Sea. The military exercise between the two countries will last for a week.

Meanwhile, the US and allied countries have just finished their own massive exercise in the region. Saber Guardian took place in Eastern Europe, on the territory of three countries, aimed at deterring so-called 'Russian aggression'.

Some 25,000 personnel from more than 20 states participated in the biggest drills of their kind in five years.

Despite that, NATO allies are worried by the upcoming Russian war games in Belarus this September. The US Army's top general in Europe even suggested that Moscow might carry out a so-called "Trojan horse" maneuver there.

“People are worried, this is a Trojan horse. They say, ‘We’re just doing an exercise,’ and then all of a sudden they’ve moved all these people and capabilities somewhere,” Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army forces in Europe, told Reuters on Thursday.

Political analyst Chris Bambery says NATO and America only have themselves to blame for the uptick in tensions.

RT: The US Army's top general in Europe even suggested that Moscow might carry out a so-called "Trojan horse" maneuver. What do you think about that?

Chris Bambery: I think what NATO and the Americans should be saying is that they themselves are building up their military presence in the region firstly through NATO expansion, something that was specifically promised to Mikhail Gorbachev back when the Soviet Union was collapsing would not happen. That was one of the deals that was done at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It was a promise to Russia that NATO will not expand into the former satellite states of former USSR territory. And secondly we’ve seen not just those countries joining NATO, but NATO sending troops into the Baltic States and elsewhere, putting the missile shields into Poland and the Czech Republic and carrying out exercises in Hungary, Bulgaria, but also in the north in Poland, Sweden and the Baltic States. And this build-up has destabilized the region. We have a potential Cold War in that region, largely stemming from the NATO expansion into it.

But I think also it is something else. The Chinese have got their own ax to grind given what is happening in the South China Sea, where there is a standoff between them and the Americans, the Taiwanese and the Japanese allies over these islands there. So it is not surprising to anyone that China and Russia are allies. Is this news to anyone? Is it news to this General [Ben Hodges] because they have not been following the news, if that is the case. And it is also the case that clearly if NATO and Americans carry out military exercises in this region, that there is going to be a response. I think what sent the West into a tizzy is the fact that Chinese warships have entered the Baltic, which is unprecedented. And it is a demonstration that, while China is not yet able to match America in terms of its military capacity, that that is something which is going to develop over the years. And the Russian-Chinese alliance has got the potential to offset America in the terms of military might in the world. This has revived fears of what China is going to become in the years to come.

RT: Why's there so much fuss about Russia given that NATO recently carried out huge drills too?

CB: We’ve had this strange attempt to portray Russia as being an enemy of everyone. Blame for everything, including attacks on House of Commons emails here in London. And it is still regarded, despite everything that has happened, as being a problem for the West as it was after WWII, as Britain regarded it in the 19th century. There is unresolved business here.

It is the expansion of NATO, despite a promise made at the time of the USSR to Gorbachev, it is that expansion which has destabilized relationships in Eastern Europe. And clearly, if NATO is going to expand to the border of Smolensk, that is going to worry the Russians. And rather than this stuff coming from the American general, perhaps the West should turn around and recognize that what it is doing is causing concern in Russia because of unrelenting NATO expansion.  

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