NATO Responds to Russian Allegations

NATO Responds to Russian Allegations

Vladimir Putin’s plans to invade Ukraine are moving forward. In both Russia and neighboring Belarus, the Kremlin’s forces have taken positions which place its military in pre-attack formation.

As part of his preparations, Putin falsely accuses of NATO of being “aggressive,” and seeks to exercise a veto of what new members the alliance may add.  Unfortunately, bizarre statements by President Biden at a press conference indicated that his administration would not respond to a minor “incursion.”

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), a key member of the House Armed Services Committee, quickly criticized the comment.

“Let’s be clear, Mr. President: an invasion of another country is an invasion. There is no such thing as a ‘minor incursion’ into another country, especially when Russia already occupies large portions of Ukraine. For months, the Biden administration has refused to recognize the inconvenient truth that Putin has been preparing to further invade Ukraine. The Kremlin has built up a massive and expensive invasion force, fomented instability, launched cyber-attacks, and weaponized energy supplies.”

Since the U.S. has neglected to take its traditional leading role in opposing international adventurism, and NATO has taken up the slack. The alliance has issued a policy paper clarifying its relations with Moscow, and responding to the Kremlin’s blatantly false statements.  According to the document, “NATO’s approach to Russia remains consistent: strong deterrence combined with political dialogue. We regret Russia’s decision to suspend the work of its diplomatic mission to NATO, and of NATO’s Military Liaison Office in Moscow, and to close down NATO’s Information Office in Moscow. These steps do not contribute to dialogue and mutual understanding… NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our member states. Our exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – or any other country. This myth also ignores geography. Russia’s land border is just over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, less than one-sixteenth (1,215 kilometres), is shared with NATO members. Russia has land borders with 14 countries. Only five of them are NATO members.”

Putin alleges that the placement of NATO troops on NATO soil is somehow provocative or threatening. The alliance responds that “There is no “contact line” between NATO and Russian forces – but internationally recognized borders of NATO Allies. NATO’s deployments on Allied territory are defensive, proportionate and in line with our international commitments. Our enhanced forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance is not meant to provoke a conflict but to prevent a conflict. It is a response to Russia’s use of military force against its neighbors and its military build-up in the Baltic region and beyond…we see aggressive Russian military activities continuing, including a major build-up of Russian forces in and around Ukraine earlier this year.”

Russia maintains that it has a “sphere of influence” in the former parts of its Empire. NATO rejects the concept.

“We reject any idea of spheres of influence in Europe – they are part of history and should remain part of history. Like every country, Ukraine has the sovereign right to choose its own security arrangements. This is a fundamental principle of European security, one that Russia has also subscribed to and should respect. After the end of the Cold War, Russia played a part in building an inclusive European security architecture, including through the Charter of Paris, the establishment of the OSCE, the creation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the NATO-Russia Founding Act.”

The concept of negotiating with Moscow, a move which would provide giving the Kremlin something in return for not invading Ukraine, should not be taken seriously. No nation has the right to invade its neighbors, and should not be rewarded for not doing so.

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