The problems in relations between Russia and the West could be resolved if they were not on opposite sides of the barricades, but within the same bloc. Such thoughts are not often heard in NATO countries today, but such a position still has supporters.
“Maybe NATO really should open its doors to everyone, including Russia?”
Retired Norwegian General Robert Mood in an article published by Aftenposten, suggested changing the current approaches to relations with Moscow. According to the general, in the three decades that have passed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has not been accepted in the West as a full partner. Moreover, we are talking not only about diplomacy, but also about the attitude towards Russians in general.
“I also don’t remember seeing at least one film or TV series where Russians would be positive and Western characters negative. Western culture is promoting the United States and Western Europeans as something undeniably good. And at the same time cultivates the image of Russia and Russians as something unambiguously evil, vile and primitive. We distort reality, portraying it as the main villain, and the United States and the West as impeccable defenders of democracy, ”the Norwegian general of Sputnik radio quotes.
According to Mood, it is necessary to act differently: “Maybe NATO really should focus more on defense and open doors for everyone, including Russia, urging its members to abandon bases and nuclear weapons outside its own territory? Unless we start thinking differently, we are likely to quickly lead to even greater conflicts and wars in both the short and long term. ”
The idea of our country’s membership in NATO is by no means the know-how of a Norwegian general. For the first time this topic was discussed 70 years ago, and on the initiative of the Soviet Union.
“To keep the Soviet Union outside, the Americans inside, and the Germans in a subordinate position.”
Immediately after the end of World War II, Western countries, primarily the United States and Great Britain, embarked on a course to reduce the influence of the USSR in the world. Speech Winston Churchill in Fulton, which actually proclaimed the beginning of the Cold War, became a prologue to action.
On March 17, 1948, five Western European states – Belgium, Great Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France – signed the so-called Brussels Pact, the key provision of which was the creation of “collective self-defense”. Germany was considered as a possible aggressor in the event of the return to power of the militarists, however, first of all, the USSR was considered as an enemy.
On April 4, 1949, 12 countries, among which were the signatories of the Brussels Pact, the USA, Canada, as well as Denmark, Italy, Norway, Portugal and Iceland, signed the North Atlantic Treaty. His anti-Soviet essence was not hidden either then or now.
First NATO Secretary General Ismay Hastings formulated the purpose of the organization’s existence rather succinctly: “To keep the Soviet Union outside, the Americans inside, and the Germans in a subordinate position.”
During the 65th anniversary of NATO, the then NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated: “Sixty-five years ago this month, NATO was created in a dangerous world. As the shadow of the USSR thickened over Europe, 12 countries on both sides of the Atlantic united to defend their security and core values: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. ”
“Shouldn’t we then join NATO too?”
Indeed, it was the noblest association: yesterday’s allies of the USSR in the fight against Nazism (USA, Great Britain, Canada), together with those who were allied with the Third Reich (Italy), as well as those whose independence was paid for with the blood of Soviet soldiers (Norway ), were preparing to put an end to the “dangerous Bolsheviks.” With a country that not only made the greatest contribution to the victory over fascism, but also suffered heavy losses in this struggle, incomparable with the losses of other European states.
At the same time, the North Atlantic Alliance was not a response to similar actions by the USSR: there was no pro-Soviet military bloc in Europe at that time.
But Western diplomats in conversations with their Soviet colleagues insisted: NATO is exclusively defensive in nature and thinks only about “protecting the world.”
When Turkey was included in NATO in 1952, reaffirming the peaceful nature of the organization, Joseph Stalin in his usual ironic tone, he remarked: “Shouldn’t we then join NATO?”
Legendary Soviet diplomat Andrey Gromyko more than once publicly declared: “If this pact was directed against the revival of German aggression, the USSR itself would have joined NATO.”
Soviet note and Western response
Gromyko and became the ideological inspirer of the Soviet Union’s attempt to join NATO, which took place in 1954.
On March 31, 1954, the USSR government sent an official note asking for admission to the North Atlantic Alliance. The document said: “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization would cease to be a closed military grouping of states, it would be open for the accession of other European countries, which, along with the creation of an effective collective security system in Europe, would be of great importance for strengthening global peace.”
The West’s response was exhaustive: “The unreal nature of the proposal is not worthy of discussion.” However, the United States was ready to consider such a possibility in the event that the USSR abandoned its bases in the Far East, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany and Austria, and Moscow signed a number of arms limitation treaties on Western terms. At the same time, the “collective West” was not going to take on any obligations.
Calling a spade a spade, the USSR offered a surrender akin to the one it later went on Mikhail Gorbachev, and then Boris Yeltsin… But the Soviet leaders of the 1950s, despite their many shortcomings, were not idiots.
On May 9, 1955, West Germany was admitted to NATO. That is, in violation of all previous agreements, the member countries of the anti-Hitler coalition made the country that initiated the Second World War a member of the military bloc.
Five days after the admission of West Germany to NATO, Moscow made a retaliatory move: the USSR and the socialist countries created the Warsaw Pact Organization for Peace and Security in Europe. The Soviet alliance, whatever one may say, was only a response to the actions of the West.
Yeltsin’s big goal
The collapse of the socialist bloc and the USSR gave birth to a new reality. Already in December 1991, Russian President Yeltsin sent an appeal to NATO, announcing joining the North Atlantic Alliance as one of the goals of his foreign policy.
In Russia in the early 1990s, the idea of NATO membership was indeed discussed, but the general background was negative. And there was no clear answer to the logical question: if the Cold War is over, then what is the need for a bloc that was once against the communist Soviet Union?
Today, from the published correspondence of Western diplomats, it becomes clear: both the United States and Europe understood perfectly well that any expansion of NATO to the east would be perceived by Moscow extremely negatively. All the main Russian political forces saw this as hostile actions towards Russia, and Washington was well aware of this.
Agreeing to Russia’s accession to NATO could have changed the entire history of international relations, but the West found it more logical to act as a winner in the Cold War, that is, ignoring Moscow’s opinion on this issue altogether.
“Maybe look at the option that Russia will join NATO”
It’s hard to believe today, but my career as president Vladimir Putin started out as a politician with very pro-Western views.
Being also. O. Head of state, in early 2000 in an interview with the BBC, he said that he was considering the possibility of Russia’s membership in NATO: “Why not? I do not exclude such a possibility – in the event that Russia’s interests are taken into account, if it becomes a full partner. “
The same topic was discussed at the talks with the President of the United States. Bill Clinton… In 2017, Putin recalled it this way: “During the discussion, I said:“ Maybe, look at the option that Russia will join NATO. ” Clinton replied: “I do not mind.” But the whole delegation was very nervous. “
Considering that all this happened after the NATO military aggression against Yugoslavia, Putin’s gesture was very broad. One could even say that he went against the opinion of the majority of Russians, believing that relations with the West are extremely important for the future of Russia.
“We have a fair right to ask frankly: who is this expansion against?”
In 2004, the so-called “fifth enlargement of NATO” took place. The bloc included not only the former socialist countries, but also the former republics of the USSR: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Nobody was going to take into account the opinion and interests of Russia, getting off with general words about “partnership relations”.
In his famous Munich speech in 2007, Putin bitterly stated: “The process of NATO enlargement has nothing to do with modernizing the alliance itself or ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it is a seriously provoking factor that lowers the level of mutual trust. And we have a fair right to ask frankly: against whom is this expansion? And what happened to the assurances given by Western partners after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are these statements now? .. Now they are trying to impose on us new dividing lines and walls – albeit virtual, but still dividing, cutting our common continent. Will it really take many years and decades again, a change of several generations of politicians to ‘dismantle’ and ‘dismantle’ these new walls? “
The speech of the President of Russia in the West was considered aggressive. But Putin only called a spade a spade, ceasing to pretend that our country is satisfied with this situation.
The West responded in 2008 with the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, carried out by an army trained with the help of NATO instructors and equipped with weapons from the Alliance countries. The attack on Tskhinvali was the first open military challenge to Russia. And this challenge was accepted.
The conciliatory idea of the Norwegian general is unrealistic for only one reason: the North Atlantic Alliance, created to confront the USSR, has always seen an enemy in Russia as well. An enemy that politicians and businessmen need so much, because the image of a “threat” is easy to play out both in elections and in the distribution of budgets.