Russian-NATO tensions over post-socialist countries in NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is holding its 59th summit in Bucharest. The key topics are the presence in Afghanistan and the enlargement of the alliance which presently has 26 members.

Founded in 1949, from the early years of the Cold War NATO faced the Warsaw Pact of the communist countries led by the Soviet Union until the latter one collapsed in the late 1980s. Those four decades could be described as years of high tension, though constantly fluctuating. There were peaks like the Cuba missile crise and times when the two blocs were fairly happy living together.

Since the transition began in the Eastern European region, the NATO has started to integrate the so-called post-socialist countries. The first ones to enter the organisation were the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary in 1999, followed by another seven in 2004. These expansions, especially the latter one were not welcomed by the Russian Federation. They included territories which used to be subordinates of the Soviet power (either as the member of the USSR or countries which were kept in control with military and political power) and which were now independent and according to the leaders of Russia somewhat threatening. Above all: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia used to be actual parts of the USSR and are neighbours of Russia.

The Russian regime is even less pleased with the recent developments: Georgia and Ukraine (former members of the family of the Soviet republics) were proposed to be included in the Membership Action Plan (MAP) of the NATO, which is effectively a pre-membership status. In addition the NATO wants its missile shields to stand in Central Eastern Europe (probably Czech Republic or Poland), allegedly against Iran.

“A powerful bloc at our borders will be seen by Russia as a direct threat to our security,” Vladimir Putin, the stepping down president of Russia told journalists. He thinks that “No one can seriously think that Iran would dare attack the United States,” and that “Instead of pushing Iran into a corner, it would be far more sensible to think together how to help Iran become more predictable and transparent,”.

However essentially for Russia it would be a strategic defeat if the US Army would be that close its borders both with the missile shields and the integration of Ukraine and Georgia.

Putin descirbed that they left the Eastern European region peacefully (arguably they did not have any other choices though) so they must get something in return, whereas they are just threatened.

Although at the moment Putin feels that a new Cold War is impossible, in the close future the talks between George W. Bush and Putin’s successor, Medvedev will have to be focused on these questions. The world has to look out: the outcomes can range from a peaceful cooperation between Russia and the Western countries and a new era of cold war and separation which would be economically and politically undesirable for he region of Central Eastern Europe.

– United World College Student Magazine –

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