Research & Analytics

Russia’s Fantastic Myths about NATO – Part 2

Nato flags

Russia continues to wage an active disinformation campaign against NATO and accused it of hostile actions against Russia, undermining world security and plenty of other Russian propagandists’ fantasies. Today, Promote Ukraine publishes the second part of the official refutations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Claim: NATO has a Cold War mentality

Fact: The Cold War ended more than 20 years ago. It was characterised by the opposition of two ideological blocs, the presence of massive standing armies in Europe, and the military, political and economic domination by the Soviet Union of almost all its European neighbours.

The end of the Cold War was a victory for the people of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and opened the way to overcoming the division of Europe. At pathbreaking Summit meetings in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia played its part in building a new, inclusive European security architecture, including the Charter of Paris, the establishment of the OSCE, the creation of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has introduced sweeping changes to its membership and working practices – changes made clear by its adoption of new Strategic Concepts in 1999 and 2010. Accusations that NATO has retained its Cold War purpose ignore the reality of those changes.

Over the same period, NATO reached out to Russia with a series of partnership initiatives, culminating in the foundation of the NATO-Russia Council in 2002.

As reaffirmed by NATO leaders at the Brussels Summit in July 2018, “NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia. This is NATO’s official policy, defined and expressed transparently by its highest level of leadership. As an organisation that is accountable to its member nations, NATO is to implement this policy.

Claim: NATO is a U.S. geopolitical project.

Fact: NATO was founded in 1949 by 12 sovereign nations: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. It has since grown to 29 Allies who each took an individual and sovereign decision to join this Alliance.

All decisions in NATO are taken by consensus, which means that a decision can only be admitted if every single ally accepts it.

Equally, the decision for any country to take part in NATO-led operations falls to that country alone, according to its legal procedures. No member of the Alliance can decide on the deployment of any other Ally’s forces.

Claim: NATO has tried to isolate or marginalise Russia.

Fact: For more than two decades, NATO has consistently worked to build a cooperative relationship with Russia.

NATO began reaching out, offering dialogue in place of confrontation, at the London NATO Summit of July 1990. In the following years, the Alliance promoted dialogue and cooperation by creating the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), open to the whole of Europe, including Russia.

In 1997, NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation, and Security, creating the NATO Russia Permanent Joint Council. In 2002, this was upgraded, creating the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).

We set out to build a good relationship with Russia. We worked together on issues ranging from counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism to submarine rescue and civil emergency planning.

However, in March 2014, in response to Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, NATO suspended practical cooperation with Russia. At the same time, NATO has kept channels for communication with Russia open. The NATO-Russia Council has met 10 times since 2016. The Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General also engage regularly with their Russian counterparts. We do not seek confrontation, but we cannot ignore Russia breaking international rules, undermining our stability and security.

Claim: NATO should have been disbanded at the end of the Cold War.

Fact: At the London Summit in 1990, Allied heads of state and government agreed that “We need to keep standing together, to extend the long peace we have enjoyed these past four decades.” That was their sovereign choice and was fully in line with their right to collective defence under the United Nations Charter.

Since then, 13 more countries have chosen to join NATO. The Alliance has taken on new missions and adapted to new challenges, all the while sticking to its fundamental principles of security, collective defence, and decision-making by consensus.

Twice since the end of the Cold War, NATO has adopted new Strategic Concepts (in 1999 and 2010), adapting to new realities. Thus, instead of disbanding, NATO adapted and continues to change, to live up to the Allies’ needs and expectations, and to promote their shared vision of a Europe whole, free and peaceful.

NATO as a “threat”

Claim: NATO wants to prepare Europe’s civilian infrastructure to start a war.

Fact: NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our member states. Military mobility is key to deterrence in peacetime and our collective defence in times of crisis. NATO is working closely with Allies to ensure that our bridges, roads, ports, and rail networks are capable of transporting military equipment and personnel across our Allies’ borders.

That is not a preparation for war. That is about updating the military requirements for civilian infrastructure at a time when we see increased challenges to our security, including as a result of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and ongoing destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

NATO is cooperating with Allies and the European Union to remove bureaucratic hurdles to allow us to move forces across Allied territory. This involves sharing information on standards, requirements, and any challenges related to civilian infrastructure. We are also working closely with national governments and the private sector to ensure that infrastructure in Allied territory remains in top condition.

Claim: NATO’s presence in the Baltic region is dangerous.

Fact: NATO has taken defensive and proportionate steps in response to a changed security environment. Following Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, Allies requested a more extensive NATO presence in the region.

NATO personnel met Russian arms control inspectors at Estonia’s 1st Infantry Brigade in Tapa on 8 November 2017. In 2016, we deployed four multinational battlegroups – or “enhanced forward presence” – to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In 2017, the battlegroups became fully operational. More than 4,500 troops from Europe and North America work closely together with home defence forces.

NATO’s presence in the region is at the request of the host nations and enjoys significant public support. A 2016 Gallup poll found that most people in Allied countries in the Baltic region associate NATO with the protection of their country. NATO forces uphold the highest standards of conduct, both on and off duty.

As part of NATO Allies’ commitment to transparency, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania hosted Russian arms control inspectors in November 2017 and in March 2018. They toured several military sites, including some used by the multinational NATO battlegroups.

Claim: NATO missile defence threatens Russian security.

Fact: NATO’s missile defence system is purely defensive and not directed against Russia. Bilateral agreements between the U.S. and host nations do not allow missile sites to be used for any purpose other than missile defence.

The system defends against ballistic missiles from outside the Euro-Atlantic area. NATO invited Russia to cooperate on missile defence, an invitation extended to no other partner. Unfortunately, Russia refused to cooperate and rejected dialogue on this issue in 2013. Russian statements threatening to target Allies because of NATO’s ballistic missile defence are unacceptable and counterproductive.

The source: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

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