Kommersant interview with Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller, “NATO had no plans to strengthen its eastern borders before what happened in Ukraine”

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We took note of the interview by Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller, posted by the newspaper Kommersant on April 3 under a dubious headline, which is also a quote from her interview: “NATO had no plans to strengthen its eastern borders before what happened in Ukraine.”

This statement from a high-ranking representative of the alliance, in fact, ignores NATO’s rapid eastward expansion immediately after the Soviet Union collapsed, long before the recent coup in Kiev. Her subsequent statements only muddle the picture of what is happening near Russia’s borders.

In particular, the claim that all efforts of NATO members in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States are “non-threatening, defensive, and proportionate” simply is not true. After all, the matter is not confined to just four multinational battalions. These are long-term measures aimed at gaining a strategic advantage in Europe. Thus, a number of European countries will be storing advanced equipment for several US Army mechanised brigades. Staff structures are being created. The air force grouping is being built up, the aircraft of which will patrol the airspace, including above the Baltic States. The intensity of the exercises conducted by the NATO countries is increasing, and their scale is significant.

There are many concrete examples of the alliance ratcheting up military-political tensions in the vicinity of Russia's borders. Here are just a few. A US Navy destroyer, equipped with anti-ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, Tomahawk long-range strike missiles, was 30 nautical miles away from Kaliningrad. NATO ships called at the port of Odessa. The latest NATO fighter jets are based in Estonia at a distance of a 10 minute flight time to St Petersburg. Ms Gottemoeller should be asked about the true purpose of such a “peaceful” build-up of NATO's military presence near the borders of an “aggressive Russia”.How would Brussels react if Russian ships showed up within 30 miles of the US naval base in Norfolk or our planes were based within a five-minute flight from Long Island, New York?

With regard to deploying Iskander mobile missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region, we would like to point out the fact that Russia has never concealed that such military events are being carried out. The units of the missile forces were on several occasions redeployed and will be redeployed as part of the combat training plan for the Russian Armed Forces, including in the Kaliningrad Region. This happens on Russian territory and does not violate any international treaties or agreements.

Despite this latest confirmation that the leadership of the alliance is not interested in looking for ways out of the complex situation that NATO itself created, we emphasise again that we remain committed to look for ways to normalise Russia-NATO relations. The Russia-NATO Council, which has repeatedly demonstrated its relevance, continues to play a role as an important channel of interaction and a forum for discussing current issues of European security. Clearly, it is impossible to establish the necessary political foundation for dialogue without the military component. The willingness of the alliance to take into account Russian proposals on normalising relations and to engage in substantive dialogue with our country, instead of simply formally maintaining the appearance of a dialogue, are prerequisites for resuming contacts between our militaries. If the alliance continues to ignore this fact, then ultimately, as history shows, that it will negatively affect the security of all Euro-Atlantic states.


* The above quotes from the Deputy Secretary General of NATO are an example of “fake news”, as they refer to it in the West. Surprisingly, the publishing house Kommersant did not find it necessary to fact-check the interview.

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