World War 3: NATO Provoking Russia
Since the end of the Cold War, Moscow hoped for international peace and cooperation, but certain decisions and actions of its Western partners have led to further “dividing lines” in Europe, and “have largely provoked” the Ukrainian crisis, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.
In the early 1990s, “the US and its allies decided to pronounce themselves winners [in the Cold War] and refused to cooperate on creating equal and undivided security, having instead chosen to move dividing lines closer to Russia’s borders,” Lavrov said Thursday, speaking at the ‘Russia & the EU in a changing world’ conference in Berlin.
The US military has deployed Patriot anti-aircraft systems to the Baltics with the stated goal of taking part in NATO war games, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry said. It’s the first such deployment to a region already in the midst of a Western military buildup.
“Scares and speculations” surrounding Russian military drills are a smokescreen for NATO’s military buildup in Eastern Europe, where the alliance is effectively mastering a potential new battlefield, the Russian permanent representative to NATO says.
“We pointed out that while a lot of insinuations, completely unjustified from our point of view, are being spread around the Zapad-2017 drills, NATO’s funneling of arms and materiel into its eastern flank is going unnoticed,” Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, told reporters following a meeting of the Russia-NATO council on Thursday.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has firmly denied the notion of the Zapad-2017 drills being used as a pretext for invasion, praising Russia for providing data on troops and hardware to participate and the upcoming drills.
“Every nation has right to exercise its forces, and that of course also goes for Russia, second we don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO-allied country and third we will follow the Zapad-2017 exercise closely,” Stoltenberg said.
The number of troops expected to take part in Zapad-2017 remains under the 2011 Vienna document threshold for a mandatory inspection, Stoltenberg said.
“Russia briefed on exercise Zapad-2017 including providing numbers on the total number of forces but also planes, ships participating in exercise and they also gave numbers for Russian troops and troops from Belarus separately,” he added. “Then many allies asked questions and we had a discussion about the numbers, I think my message today is that it’s too early to say because it remains to be seen because the exercises haven’t yet taken place.”
Russia’s and NATO’s representatives have also discussed situation in eastern Ukraine and Afghanistan. While regarding Ukraine the two sides stressed the importance of the Minsk agreements and urged the warring parties to begin their implementation, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan was perceived quite differently.
Stoltenberg stressed the importance of the ongoing Afghan reconciliation.
“The focus of meeting today was the importance of supporting an Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process. I welcome the fact that president Ghani has initiated such a process,” the NATO chief said.
Russia, however, warned about possibility for violence and terrorism spilling from Afghanistan to neighboring countries of the region, and noted a “disheartening” situation with illegal drugs in the country.
“We continued to discuss Afghanistan. There, I guess, there’s a joint understanding that allowing instability spillover from the country is unacceptable. The situation there is deteriorating, there’s a threat of Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists, while Islamic State (IS formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions, unfortunately do not weaken,” Grushko said.