NATO commander: Russia undermined national borders in Europe

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander says Russia’s new ‘revanchist’ policies brings uncertainty towards Europe and undermines basic assumptions of stable national borders.

Russia-US relations have entered a stage of such uncertainty that they could be described as the worst scenario since the end of the Cold War.

To that conclusion was advanced by NATO Supreme Allied Commander General John Craddock in his speech at a congressional hearing.

He said “we are in a time of uncertainty in the US-Russian relationship brought about by disagreements over European security, Russia's role in what it regards as its neighbourhood, and Russia's decision to send forces into Georgia and to recognize the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.”

The General has warned that Moscow follows ‘divide et impera’ politics in Europe and hampers US influence in the region.

“Russia seems determined [to] see Euro-Atlantic security institutions weakened and has shown a readiness to use economic leverage and military force to achieve its aims,” he told the U.S. Senate's armed services committee.

These conclusions are the result of an analysis of Russia’s actions during and after the military conflict between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the price of gas in January 2009.

John Craddock insists that the war in South Ossetia debunked the idea that the established national borders are solid and safe.

“The assumption after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact was that there were no borders that were under threat of invasion in Europe and Eurasia. That would not be the case,” he said.

According to Craddock, Russia does not hesitate to use energy supply as a weapon when dealing with its neighbours and those European countries dependent on Russian gas.

The General recommended refraining from reducing American forces on European bases to maintain deterrence.

On March 19, the American administration announced that General John Craddock would be replaced by Admiral James G. Stavridis as NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Freeze and thaw

Commenting on the report, Sergey Utkin from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations told RT he believed it rather reflected ‘pre-Obama’ NATO’s position than the alliance’s plans for the future.

“It’s not a unique case of NATO officials openly expressing dissatisfaction with the relations with their partners. [Secretary General] Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, for instance, on several occasions criticized NATO’s relations with the European Union with a bitter overtone over the lost opportunities.”

“Now the Supreme Allied Commander expressed his regrets over lost opportunities in relations with Russia, but it doesn’t mean his successor won’t do better,” Utkin said.

He added that while some conservative politicians in Russia would be eager to take offence over General Craddock’s unflattering report, he didn’t believe it would damage the progress in relations between NATO and Russia or the US and Russia.

NATO’s relations with Russia were put on hold after a war broke out in August 2008 in South Ossetia. The ties were officially restored in March 2009.

Barack Obama’s administration has announced plans to overcome the crisis in relations with Russia, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has visited Moscow to “reset” bilateral relations.

Obama’s administration has also mentioned possible re-consideration of America’s plans to deploy elements of the ABM shield in Eastern Europe.

The Russian and American presidents will hold a meeting for the very first time on April 2 in London during the G20 summit.