By Pyotr Romanov
Published: October 15, 2014 (Issue # 1833)
It became clear just how much thesubject ofNATO is asore spot forRussian society when new NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was quoted ina recent interview onPolish television as saying that NATO would base its forces wherever we want.
Moscow immediately responded byreminding theWest that such apolicy would violate agreements between NATO andRussia prompting Brussels tohurriedly issue acorrection, claiming that thePolish translator had misquoted Stoltenberg.
Ofcourse, mistakes happen, but considering that Russian-Polish relations have been far fromideal forcenturies, it is entirely possible that thetranslator heard exactly what Warsaw wanted tohear.
Nor does Moscows frustrated andangry response come as any surprise: Russia is convinced that theWest broke its promise that NATO would refrain fromexpanding intoEastern Europe inexchange forthe reunification ofGermany. True, that pledge was never set down ina legally binding document, but thefeeling remains that Russia was betrayed.
TheRussian mentality also plays arole here because legal documents do not hold thesame sway inthis country as they do inthe West. Even with all thecorruption that exists, asolemn promise carries more weight formany Russians than does anotarized document.
Andfinally, it is clear why Brussels rushed toissue thecorrection: Relations have already deteriorated intoa new Cold War without adding this problem as well.
Andyet, thesituation is adouble edged sword: It helps NATO find anew purpose following thecollapse ofthe Soviet Union, andit provides justification fora Russian military buildup. But other than themilitary-industrial complexes ofboth sides, who really stands togain froma new arms race?
Obviously, Russian politicians, generals andadmirals take whatever stance toward NATO their jobs demand.
Read more here:
What Russians Think About NATO