When is bearing your teeth not a provocation?

NATO has been spending the last few years showing off their military might and marauding up and down Russia’s borders. (I am referring to flights near Russia’s borders, provocative exercises simulating landings near Kaliningrad and endless rotations of US destroyers in the Black Sea). The motivation to do this was almost certainly to try to restore pride lost when Russia so easily snaffled up Crimea – without (and this was the crime) of asking permission from the masters of the world.

They have also been arming Ukraine – which is in territorial dispute with Moscow. The West has done nothing to persuade Kiev to implement the Minsk agreements on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine; sending them weapons together with this lack of diplomatic pressure must surely send them a signal that it would be ok for them to attack the rebel held areas of Donetsk and Lugansk.

The amazing thing is that they do all this and then are genuinely surprised when Russia hits back. Russia has issued a string of demands to NATO which amount to “keep back from our borders”.

NATO has issued a statement in response in which they refer to “the false Russian claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations”. Honestly all they do here is make a public display of their stupidity. When they conducted their landing exercises within 200 Km of Kaliningrad in 2015 and their pet newspaper the Guardian headlined with “NATO shows its teeth to Russia with elaborate Baltic training exercise” they probably felt “job well done – that will show Russia”. And UK Ministers seem to love provocations: the then Defence Minister allowed himself to be photographed riding a British warship in the Baltic [1] (after the Crimean annexation); the current Foreign Secretary (wildly out of her depth of course) recently posed for a photo in a UK made Challenger Tank in Estonia (a long way from the UK but in a country with a border with Russia) and on the same trip issued “warnings” to Putin; and of course there was the deliberate provocation of sailing a destroyer through Crimean waters in July of this year. NATO, the US and its puppet the UK, have been making a very specific point of marching up and down Russia’s borders for the last 7 years – and now they act all surprised when Russia says enough is enough.

The frightening thing is they probably are surprised. They are so stupid and insular that it may not have occurred to them that Russia would react to all these provocations… If war were to break out (I am assuming it won’t) the sheer stupidity of Western leaders will be a major causal factor.

Update

I’ve come across this 2018 interview with Rand Paul on the question of Russian election inference and NATO’s expansion. Note Rand Paul’s refreshing admission that the US interferes in the elections of other countries. Paul also argues that NATO’s pushing right up to Russia’s borders is bound to have produced a response in Russia – as it has. I like Rand Paul’s honesty and clear-sightedness.

The interview took place on CNN and we can also note how the CNN anchor is clearly completely subsumed in the Western propaganda. It is sad how these people do not realise that they are just like a newsreader in North Korea – completely unable (unlike Paul) to think clearly, and endlessly repeating the “truisms” of their programming (washed brains). The interviewer really chokes on Rand Paul’s pointing out that the US interferes in the elections of other countries. (In Ukraine of course there was a full-on lavishly funded programme to fund “civil society groups” which necessarily means ones which are pro-Western ‘democracy’ and capitalism. US politicians pitched up in the middle of their ‘revolution’ to egg them on and one was caught on tape carving up the new government of Ukraine with the US Ambassador!) Next the interviewer chokes on Rand Paul’s characterisation of the Mueller inquiry as a witch-hunt. Pauls handles this gracefully – separating off the actual question of Russian interference from the way the inquiry ended up using its huge resources to go after people for unrelated business crimes and legal infringements of the process itself. It is probably the way that Rand Paul accurately analyses Russia-NATO tensions in terms of ‘chicken and egg’ that most freaks out the interviewer. Paul points out that (as in any conflict) each side sees its responses as legitimate escalation to the provocations of the other side and it is often hard to work out exactly “who started it”. Rand also says that it would be useful to see things from Russia’s point of view and understand that they feel threatened by NATO’s expansion right up to their borders.

Challenged by this clear-sighted analysis the anchor panics and retreats to the mantras he learned in the nursery (weekly briefing meetings probably): “Given the fact that NATO protects sovereign countries while allowing them to remain sovereign while Russia invades other countries and takes over those countries. I don’t think its chicken or the egg” and “..Russia has continued to expand and take territory in Ukraine in Crimea in Georgia”. These are kinds of catechisms – the kind that primitive religious folk repeat at meetings as a token of their belonging to some club. He counts Ukraine twice – once as Crimea and once as Ukraine. Georgia refers to the 2008 war started by Georgia (according to the EU) which resulted in South Ossetia (population 50,000) breaking away and becoming independent and the already independent Abkhazia being recognized as a state by Russia. The history of Crimea is well-known; part of the Russian Empire since the time of Catherine the Great and with a recent history of trying to re-join Russia straight after the collapse of the USSR. At any event any objective historian could see that following the end of the USSR and (by a kind of extension) the collapse of the Russian Empire there were bound to be small areas of contention at the borders. The cases where Russia has intervened have all been in these areas. This is manifestly neither “expansion” or “aggression”. The attitude which sees these very limited actions as “expansion” is that attitude that saw the collapse of the USSR as a total victory for the West and is determined that Russia stay “crushed”. This is not a good policy because it will lead to counter-reactions, as Rand Paul understands and articulates very clearly.

Thank God for Rand Paul.

Notes

  1. I can’t find the actual image I want. There is one of him on the prow of a ship. This is the closest I could get. (Tip: to get past the demand for money disable JavaScript for this site. In Chrome it is under Privacy and Security…. JavaScript. You can add just this site. You only have to do it once).

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer