Eric Zuesse | 18 May 2016
On May 18th, Britain’s Guardian headlined
“West and Russia on course for war, says ex-Nato deputy commander” and reported that the former deputy commander of NATO, the former British general Sir Alexander Richard Shirreff (who was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 2011-2014), expressed outrage that Britain isn’t urgently preparing for war against Russia, and also reported that “He describes Russia as now the west’s most dangerous adversary and says Putin’s course can only be stopped if the west wakes up to the real possibility of war and takes urgent action. … In a chilling scenario, he predicts that Russia, in order to escape what it believes to be encirclement by Nato, will seize territory in eastern Ukraine.” (That’s the Donbass region, where there has been a civil war.)
This encirclement by NATO is, apparently, about to be expanded: Shirreff will now be satisfied by NATO, even if not by its member the UK, of which Shirreff happens to be a citizen. New Europe bannered the same day, “NATO lays down the cards on its Russia policy”, and reported that, “In two distinct pre-ministerial press conferences on Wednesday [May 18th], the General Secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and the US Ambassador to NATO, Daglas Lute, introduced the Russia agenda to be covered.
Both NATO leaders said that the Accession Protocol Montenegro is signing on Thursday is a strong affirmation of NATO’s open door policy, mentioning explicitly Georgia. ‘We will continue to defend Georgia’s right to make its own decisions,’ Stoltenberg said.” Georgia is on Russia’s southwestern flank; so, it could be yet another a nuclear-missile base right on Russia’s borders, complementing Poland and the Baltics on Russia’s northwestern flank. (The U.S. itself has around 800 military bases in foreign countries, and so even Russia’s less-populous eastern regions would be able to be obliterated virtually in an instant, if the U.S. President so decides. And President Obama is already committed to the view that Russia is by far the world’s most “aggressive” enemy, more so even than international jihadists are.)
According to the New Europe report, Stoltenberg announced that where the 1997 NATO-Russia Agreement asserts that
The member States of NATO reiterate that they have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members, nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy — and do not foresee any future need to do so. This subsumes the fact that NATO has decided that it has no intention, no plan, and no reason to establish nuclear weapon storage sites on the territory of those members, whether through the construction of new nuclear storage facilities or the adaptation of old nuclear storage facilities. Nuclear storage sites are understood to be facilities specifically designed for the stationing of nuclear weapons, and include all types of hardened above or below ground facilities (storage bunkers or vaults) designed for storing nuclear weapons.
Tthe agreement is effectively terminated, and, “Largely as a result of the Crimean annexation, the repeated violations of the Minsk ceasefire agreement, and the demands of eastern flank member states, boots on the ground will increase considerably in the region, if not ‘substantially’,” along Russia’s northeastern flank, in Poland and the Baltics. Furthermore, “Poland has already said that it regards this agreement ‘obsolete’.” So, General Stoltenberg is taking his lead on that from the Polish government.
According to both Russia and the separatist Donbass eastern region of the former Ukraine, the violations of the Minsk II agreement regarding Donbass are attacks by Ukrainian government forces firing into Donbass and destroying buildings and killing residents there, however NATO and other U.S. allies ignore those allegations and just insist that all violations of the Minsk II accords are to be blamed on Russia. That is also the position advanced by Shirreff, who thinks that Russia has no right to be concerned about being surrounded by NATO forces.
Consequently, regardless of whether or not the Minsk II violations are entirely, or even mainly, or even partially, due to Ukrainian firing into Donbass, NATO appears to be gearing up for its upcoming July ministerial meeting to be an official termination of its vague promises, which NATO had made in the 1997 NATO-Russia agreement (technically called the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France, 27 May 1997”). That document said “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.”
In this regard, it was — though in public and written form, instead of merely private and verbal form — similar to the promises that the West had given to Soviet then Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, which have already been rampantly violated by the West many times and without apology. The expectation and demand is clearly that Russia must allow itself to be surrounded by NATO, and to do this without complaint, and therefore also without taking military countermeasures, which NATO would call yet more “aggression by Russia.” Any defensive moves by Russia can thus be taken by the West to be unacceptable provocation and justification for a “pre-emptive” attack against Russia by NATO. That would be World War III, and it would be based upon the same accusation against Russia that the Republican candidate for the U.S. Presidency, Mitt Romney, had stated when he was running against Barack Obama: “This is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe.” Perhaps the West here intends the final solution of the Russian problem.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.