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Russia pressurizes NATO

By Messenger Staff
Monday, April 27
Russia successfully exerted pressure on NATO twice last year. First it forced the alliance to refuse to give Membership Action Plans (MAPs) to Ukraine and Georgia in April. Then it invaded Georgia in August, knowing very well NATO’s favourable attitude to Georgia as a future candidate for NATO membership. These arrogant actions were implemented by Russia one after the other, and having got away with both, the greedy monster developed an even stronger appetite.

Recently it wanted NATO to cancel its training exercises in Georgia, scheduled for May. Having not got the result it wanted, as the trainings will go ahead, the Kremlin is pressurizing CIS member countries by warning them not to take part in them. Several countries are resisting this pressure and will participate, but one, Kazakhstan, has already withdrawn.

This will be the third NATO training exercise in Georgia. Russia was irritated by the previous ones, but this time it has just gone crazy. It gave what sounded like a categorical ultimatum to NATO. The Kremlin knows perfectly well that NATO trainings are no threat to any country, including Russia. No arms are involved. Russia is just trying to test the water to see if anyone will oppose its ultimate design of expelling NATO from the former Soviet Union. As a result of its “victory” over Georgia in August Moscow’s claim that it has the right to exercise special influence over former Soviet territories took a concrete form and forced regional nations to indirectly acknowledge this claim. Now, for all practical purposes, nothing can be done in the former Soviet Union without Moscow’s consent, which will not be given unless it is first consulted.

Russia demanded that NATO either cancel the trainings or hold them elsewhere. NATO refused to do this but was still required to justify itself by explaining the essence of the training. It was ridiculous: big brother angry at his little brother and the smaller one humbly explaining to the bigger one that he is not guilty. Russia has taken the initiative and NATO, unfortunately, has put itself on the defensive.

Of course, we should remember that NATO is supposed to be a defensive rather than an aggressive institution. However its actions do not defend the CIS members and members of the Collective Security Treaty Russia is now threatening. Although a final decision has officially not been made, Kazakh Defence Minister Akhmetov stated on April 21 that Kazakhstan will not participate in the trainings. Most probably Ukraine will also withdraw, as the Parliament has to approve such a move and a majority of Ukrainian Rada members is unlikely to vote for it. This leaves Moldova, Azerbaijan and Armenia as the CIS countries who are due to participate. When the exercises were discussed in the Russian Duma MP Semion Bagdasarov labeled the trainings as anti-Russian and expressed surprise that Moldova and Azerbaijan were listed among the participants together with Armenia, one of the members of the Collective Security Treaty. “A Russian ally will participate in an anti-Russian event, we cannot be silent about this,” stated Bagdasarov.

Russia’s claims are absurd, as these non-threatening trainings are regular fixtures which were planned long before the August war. Russia was invited to participate in them too. It is now invited to send military observers and experts, but Moscow simply demands that NATO obeys its will and puts pressure on its allies in the CIS when it gets nowhere. The Kremlin expects its allies to become more anti-American and anti-NATO by threatening and blackmailing them. Russia is apparently unaware that there is a difference between being an ally and being a subject.

The situation is that the trainings will be held in Georgia, starting on May 6, and no official documents have so far been submitted to the NATO headquarters by any country concerning any withdraw from the trainings. In the remaining week before the exercises begin we will see how many NATO members and partners are actually going to participate.