Research & Analytics

Russia’s Fantastic Myths about NATO

NATO flag

Since Russia launched its aggressive actions against Ukraine, Russian officials have accused NATO of many threats and hostilities. Today Promote Ukraine publishes the first part of the official refutations of the Russian propagandists’ numerous fantasies by the Atlantic Alliance.

Fact: NATO suspended practical co-operation with Russia due to its aggressive actions in Ukraine. However, we continue to keep channels for political dialogue open. The Nato -Russia Council, a powerful platform for dialogue, has never been suspended. We have held ten meetings since 2016.

Claim: By suspending practical co-operation with Russia, NATO undermines security

Fact: In 2014, NATO suspended all practical co-operation with Russia, in response to its aggressive actions in Ukraine. This co-operation included projects in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and scientific co-operation. These projects did deliver results over time, and the suspension of them has undermined neither the Atlantic Alliance security nor its ability to counter such challenges as terrorism.

We have made it clear that we continue to seek a constructive relationship with Russia. But an improvement in the Atlantic Alliance’s relations with Russia will be contingent on a clear and constructive change in Russia’s actions – one that demonstrates compliance with international law and Russia’s international commitments.

Claim: STANDEX Project scrapped by NATO

Fact: Initiated in 2009, the Stand-off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) project was never frozen or suspended. It was completed according to the schedule at the end of 2013.

STANDEX was a NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) project run by a consortium of laboratories and research institutes. Participants included France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia. The project brought together various techniques and technologies to allow for the detection, recognition, localisation, and tracking of would-be suicide bombers in mass transportation.

STANDEX was a technology development project. As with all such developments, the eventual goal is a deployed system. NATO encouraged project participants to seek commercialisation of their technologies, and some are now commercially available.

NATO enlargement

Claim: NATO enlargement threatens Russia

Fact: NATO is a defensive alliance. Our purpose is to protect our member states. Every country that joins NATO undertakes to uphold its principles and policies. This includes the commitment that “the Alliance does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia,” as reaffirmed at the Brussels Summit.

NATO enlargement is not directed against Russia. Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its security arrangements. This is a fundamental principle of European security, one that Russia has also subscribed to and should respect. Nato enlargement has brought more stability and prosperity to Europe, including Russia.

Claim: NATO enlargement in the Balkans is a destabilizing factor

Fact: All the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which have joined Nato over the past decade have enjoyed peace, security, and co-operation with their neighbours since then.

The countries in the region which aspire to membership are conducting reforms to bring themselves closer to Nato standards. These reforms enhance democracy and security in every country.

The countries in the region have played a significant role in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, providing training to the Afghan forces and helping to provide a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo. That is a direct contribution to stability in the broader Euro-Atlantic area.

Claim: NATO tried to “drag” Ukraine into the Atlantic Alliance

Fact: When the administrations of President Kuchma and President Yushchenko made clear their aspiration to Nato membership, the Alliance worked with them to encourage the reforms which would be needed to make that aspiration a reality.

When the administration of President Yanukovych opted for a non-bloc status, Nato respected that decision and continued to work with Ukraine on reforms, at the government’s request.

Nato respects the right of every country to choose its security arrangements. Article 13 of the Washington Treaty specifically gives Allies the right to leave.

Over the past 65 years, 29 countries have chosen freely, and according to their domestic democratic processes, to join Nato. No one has asked to leave. That is their sovereign choice.

Claim: Russia has the right to demand a guarantee that Ukraine will not join Nato

Fact: Every sovereign nation has the right to choose its security arrangements. That is a fundamental principle of European security. According to Article I of the Helsinki Final Act which established the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 1975, every country has the right “to belong or not to belong to international organizations, to be or not to be a party to bilateral or multilateral treaties including the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance.” All the OSCE member states, including Russia, have sworn to uphold those principles.

In line with those principles, Ukraine has the right to choose for itself whether it joins any treaty of alliance, including Nato’s founding treaty.

Moreover, when Russia signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act, it pledged to uphold “respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their security“.

Ukraine has the right to choose its alliances, and Russia has, by its repeated agreement, no right to dictate that choice.

Claim: NATO provoked the “Maidan” protests in Ukraine

Fact: The demonstrations which began in Kyiv in November 2013 were born out of Ukrainians’ desire for a closer relationship with the European Union, and their frustration when former President Yanukovych halted progress toward that goal as a result of Russian pressure.

The protesters’ demands included constitutional reform, a more powerful for the parliament, the formation of a government of national unity, an end to the pervasive and endemic corruption and violation, early presidential elections. There was no mention of Nato.

Ukraine began discussing the idea of abandoning its non-bloc status in September 2014, six months after the illegal and illegitimate Russian “annexation” of Crimea and the start of Russia’s aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine. The final decision by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada to abandon the non-bloc status was taken in December 2014, over a year after the pro-EU demonstrations began.

Claim: Nato was planning to base ships and missiles in Crimea

Fact: This is fiction. The idea has never been proposed, suggested, or discussed within Nato.

Claim: Nato set up a military base in Georgia

Fact: NATO agreed at the Wales Summit to offer Georgia a substantial package of assistance to strengthen Georgia’s defence and interoperability capabilities with the Atlantic Alliance. In August 2015, a Nato -Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre was inaugurated in Krtsanisi to contribute to the training and interoperability of Georgian and Alliance personnel.

This is a training centre, not a military base.

It contributes to stability by making Georgia’s armed forces more professional, and by reinforcing the democratic controls over them.

Claim: Nato has bases all around the world

Fact: Nato’s military infrastructure outside the territory of Allies is limited to those areas in which the Atlantic Alliance is conducting operations.

The Atlantic Alliance has military facilities in Afghanistan for the support of the Resolute Support mission, and in Kosovo for the KFOR mission.

Nato has civilian liaison offices in partner countries such as Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia. These cannot be considered as “military bases”.

Individual Allies have overseas bases based on bilateral agreements and the principle of host-nation consent, in contrast with Russian bases on the territory of Moldova (Transnistria), Ukraine (the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) and Georgia (the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia).

Nato and its attitude to Russia

Claim: Nato whips up ‘hysteria’ over Russia’s exercises

Fact: Every nation has the right to conduct exercises, but it must be carried out transparently and in line with international obligations.

To promote transparency, OSCE members, including Russia, commit to following the rules of the Vienna Document. If an exercise exceeds 9,000 personnel, it is subject to notification. But if it exceeds 13,000 personnel, observers from OSCE states must be invited to attend it. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has never opened an exercise to mandatory Vienna Document observation.

Nato’s concerns about exercise ZAPAD 2017 were a direct result of Russia’s lack of transparency. Both its scale and geographical scope significantly exceeded what Russia had previously announced, including in the Nato-Russia Council. Allies made this clear to Russia at a meeting of the Nato -Russia Council in October 2017.

Russia has also used large-scale snap exercises, including those with tens of thousands of troops, to intimidate its’ neighbours. This practice raises tension and undermines trust. Both Russia’s intervention in Georgia in 2008 and the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 were masked with snap exercises.

The source: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

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