NATO's expansion does not pose a threat to Russia. Quite on the contrary, it brings Russia a lot of good. This astounding discovery was made by NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on November 16.
Russia, the official said, can already see the advantages of NATO's eastward expansion. For the first time in history, Russia has supposedly obtained stable and predictable neighbors, which do not have any aggressive plans against the country, because Russia, according to Rasmussen, does not have any intention to attack any NATO member.
For some reason, NATO chief's statement brings up the memories of Yugoslavia. Stable and predictable neighbors showered that country with bombs after it had refused to conduct military operations against rebels in Kosovo.
Mr. Rasmussen also said that Eastern Europe was experiencing an economic boom, which was also a very positive and profitable factor for Russia. The official did not specify, though, what kind of profit it was exactly.
Nevertheless, Rasmussen believes that such benefits should make Moscow rejoice over NATO's further expansion, because now is the time when Russian can forget about a threat from the West.
Rasmussen's remarks mean that all discussions about NATO's plans not to accept new members are not true to fact. Russia was especially concerned about Brussels' plans to invite Ukraine and Georgia to NATO.
NATO chief touched upon the issues of defense cooperation between the alliance and Russia too. According to Rasmussen, NATO is not willing to establish the joint ABM system with Russia, but the alliance does want the two systems to cooperate. In other words, experts of the North Atlantic Alliance intend to study Russia's missile defense system in detail and provide no control whatsoever over their own system in return.
Nevertheless, Rasmussen believes that the Russia-NATO Council, which gathers on November 19-20, will mark a new start in the relations between Russia and NATO, or even between Russia and the West.
"My strong sense is that Russia shares our view that the time has come to stop worrying about each other and work together. And we will," Fogh Rasmussen said.
Konstantin Sivkov, the first vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that Rasmussen was not being honest when saying that NATO's moves towards Russia's borders would be beneficial for the latter.
"What was the story with the Baltic States joining the alliance? NATO brought its adequate infrastructure to those countries, which automatically increased the military threat for Russia.
"The appearance of NATO military groups near Russia's borders is not a token of friendly intentions of the alliance. Rasmussen claims that the relations between Russia and NATO are fine. Why does the alliance have to increase its military presence near the Russian borders then? I am talking about the deployment of the ABM system in Europe, Patriot missile systems in Poland, the air patrolling of the Baltic States...
"Hitler also declared his friendship with the USSR. At the same time, Nazi Germany was strengthening its presence near the USSR's borders before it finally attacked the country. It seems that NATO is doing exactly the same right now towards Russia.
"As for the economic profit, one should pay attention to the fact that new NATO members do not take much effort to maintain their economies. Quite on the contrary, they have to calculate their budgets proceeding form their obligations to the alliance. They have to purchase more expensive arms, according to NATO standards, and finance operations of the alliance.
"Afterwards, the West has done everything to deprive those countries of economic independence. For example, the West lobbied the liquidation of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania. In addition, Russia was interested in establishing cooperation with an oil refinery there, but it was handed over to an American company under the USA's pressure.
"To crown it all, as long as the three Baltic States became NATO members, Russia had to invest additional resources to reduce the military threat. Was it beneficial to Russia? It takes several minutes for NATO planes to fly from Estonia to St. Petersburg. Russia is extremely concerned about such a state of affairs, even though NATO's presence in the Baltic States is not that large yet. It can grow very fast in the future, though, and Russia has to do something in return.
"It is clear that NATO is trying to make overtures to Russia. The alliance is gearing itself for war. They have settled in the Baltic States, now they have to do the same in Georgia and Ukraine. The situation in the future may change dramatically. The global financial crisis is not over, and it continues to aggravate. As historical experience shows, they extricate from such crises with the help of wars, to capture natural resources. The obtained resources solve all economic problems. Russia, as is well-known, is very rich with natural resources," the expert said.