Gevorg Mirzayan: “If NATO wanted to include Russia, it would have done it”

If the North Atlantic Alliance got obsolete and if Ukraine will join it

The 70th anniversary of the ratification of the North Atlantic treaty by 12 foreign countries was on 24 August, in other words, it was the foundation day of NATO. In an interview with Realnoe Vremya, political expert, Associate Professor of the Department of Political Studies of Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation Gevorg Mirzayan explains what the North Atlantic bloc, which was created as protection of the “eastern threat”, has come to today.

“NATO poses a military threat to Russia, but we shouldn’t exaggerate this threat either

Gevorg, how can we characterise NATO today, 70 years after the creation of this organisation? Is NATO now more than a military bloc?

NATO now is, first of all, a political organisation and a tool of American control over European allies. And the USA’s control over European affairs, if we go on.

As for the military meaning of this organisation, it isn’t zero but it has significantly decreased in the last 70 years, and especially after the end of the Cold War. Now only the presence of the United States is enough to restrain Russia.

How should one then treat different military exercises of NATO, which are reported from time to time?

One should treat them seriously because NATO poses a military threat to Russia, but we shouldn’t exaggerate this threat either.

How should our country, its citizens treat NATO then? Do we have a military and political rival or enemy in the person of this alliance?

NATO isn’t an enemy for Russia, but NATO considers Russia as an enemy. If this organisation performed a political role, provided Europe’s security, be an element of collective security, Russia would be up for it. And I will remind that in the early noughties, President of Russia Putin wanted our country to enter NATO to create a general European security system.

Photo: aa.com.tr
NATO isn’t an enemy for Russia, but NATO considers Russia as an enemy. If this organisation performed a political role, provided Europe’s security, be an element of collective security, Russia would be up for it

But NATO chose another path, as the USA, I will repeat, wanted to have control over European affairs with the help of the alliance. Now this goal is clearly outlined: to restrain Russia. It might seem that Russia doesn’t threaten anybody and isn’t going to assault anybody, but NATO unchangeably says that Russia must be restrained, restrained and restrained again. The containment of Russia became a mantra for it. And what should Russia do? If they consider us enemies, it means we will treat them this way too. Though we could work with NATO together if it dealt with Europe’s security, not certain interests of the USA.

What’s the control of the USA over NATO now?

It is control over defence planning, political influence on European countries, the creation of a single stand of member states on key issues. NATO poses itself as the key tool of Europe’s defence, and the European Union’s attempts to create some additional military structures — a united army, a united rapid reaction corps asks the USA a question: “Why do you need this if there is NATO?” The alliance is going to become an element of the European Union but an independent element because the USA chairs this organisation. NATO, in fact, is a Trojan horse in the European Union.

Which US president, in fact, made NATO an American structure?

Actually, all the presidents did it. Somebody did it calmly and carefully, diplomatically and delicately like Obama, and somebody did it point-blank as Trump is doing when he almost requires NATO to directly obey him.

“If the alliance wanted to include Russia, it would have happened

The relationships between Russia and NATO are being tough now. When did they start to have issues? Perhaps in the middle 1990s when the conflict in the Balkans broke out?

Everything went wrong when Yugoslavia started to be bombed. Russia’s hopes that NATO would deal with Europe’s security only disappeared from 1999. And they finally disappeared after NATO expanded to the East, though it was promised as early as under Gorbachov that it wouldn’t happen.

Photo: fondsk.ru
Everything went wrong when Yugoslavia started to be bombed. Russia’s hopes that NATO would deal with Europe’s security only disappeared from 1999

But despite the issue of Yugoslavia, Vladimir Putin didn’t imagine Russia to be isolated from Europe and didn’t exclude that Russia could join NATO. Why didn’t this happen in the end?

If the alliance wanted to include Russia, it would have happened. But NATO had other tasks, our country was considered by them as a strange element to Europe and the whole Western world. But if the West integrated Russia, we wouldn’t have had many of today’s problems.

As for the West’s problems, by the way. As it is known, Afghanistan is one of them. Why did NATO fail there?

You know the phrase “It is impossible to conquer Afghanistan”. As the Afghans had nothing to lose except their trousers. NATO demonstrated solidarity with the USA because of the attack on the twin towers, but it is simply impossible to put order in Afghanistan by external forces, even when building democracy.

Are the alliance’s forces needed in any tense points of the planet now?

No, they aren’t needed anywhere. Nobody needs the alliance in the way NATO looks now. If it really provided Europe’s security and thought about it every day, some countries of the same North Africa that poses a terrorist threat to Europe would need its support. But the alliance doesn’t think about security.

Yes, there were separate operations: for instance, France carried out some anti-terrorist operations in Mali, there were operations in Libya. But it wasn’t Europe’s protection, it was meeting the economic interests of the USA in that region.

“Merkel has phobias about Russia”

Can Russia and NATO cooperate in general? What would their cooperation give the world?

First of all, the security of Europe. Generally speaking, the alliance is interested in security from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and the sides could actively cooperate in this respect because those threats coming from North Africa to Europe are our common threats. They are as common as the terrorist threats coming from Afghanistan, the Near East, Middle Asia.

In addition, there is domestic radicalism in a number of European countries, and it is also a common problem. But NATO doesn’t want to solve these problems together, and they consider precisely Russia as a problem.

Photo: Aleksey Vitvitsky (sputnik.by)
Merkel isn’t a Teflon politician and can’t say as Trump did to Kim Jong-un that he was a “missile person” who decided to ruin herself and her people and then that the North Korean leader was his best friend

What could settle this tense situation between Russia and NATO?

A political will of European politicians who would say: “We shouldn’t be in conflict with Russia for the sake of conflict, it is time to create pragmatic cooperation”. If European countries had such leaders as Trump, that’s to say, if they had absolute power and a chance to pursue their pragmatic politics, we would at least find modus vivendi with NATO. Trumps personally wants it very much but he doesn’t decide everything even in the United States so far.

Can’t we pin our hopes on Angela Merkel here? Germany is anyway the key and most authoritative power in Europe.

Merkel has phobias about Russia and a bundle of wrong actions regarding our country — the same sanctions that she can’t lift. Unlike Trump, Merkel isn’t a Teflon politician and can’t say as Trump did to Kim Jong-un that he was a “missile person” deciding to ruin herself and her people and then that the North Korean leader was his best friend. Merkel doesn't have inner liberty for this type of actions because she has bet a lot to restrain Russia after 2014. By restraining, Merkel has gained authority in Europe and she doesn’t want to lose it. Of course, now she is trying to neutralise her mistakes — as an example of pragmatic cooperation with Moscow she backs up the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project — but she can’t refuse her bundle.

Will Ukraine, which was once Russia’s sister republic, join NATO?

It won’t, neither will Georgia nor Moldova if one of the terms isn’t met. Firstly, Russia must give the green light, secondly, these countries must refuse troubled territories. No sound European will want to see Ukraine in NATO if it doesn’t refuse Donbass, while the Ukrainian leader can suddenly ask to send in troops to Crimea when entering the alliance and say that it is part of Ukraine and Russian troops on the peninsular are a violation of the organisation’s charter. In this case, NATO will have to either enter a nuclear war with Russia or feel embarrassed in front of the whole world not having met the clause on defence of member states. NATO doesn’t want to resolve the Crimea dilemma, this is why Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia won’t enter the alliance in the next 10 years.

By Sergey Kochnev