Without Russia’s Core Security, Then US, NATO Dialogue is Futile

Russian and NATO flagsFinian CunninghamJaw, jaw is better than war, war, to paraphrase Winston Churchill. So at this juncture of fraught tensions, it would seem any dialogue between the United States and Russia is to be welcomed.Nevertheless, to be constructive for peace, any putative dialogue needs to be conducted on an equal basis and to address core concerns. For Russia, the core concerns, as set out in its 17 December security proposals, are the halt to NATO’s eastward expansion and, secondly, the exclusion of US strike weaponry from existing proximate NATO countries.In their response so far, neither of these key security demands were recognised by the US or the NATO alliance as worthy of concession. Washington and its NATO allies insist, rather haughtily, on the right to keep expanding membership including future membership of Ukraine, Georgia and other former Soviet states.Moscow points out that this presumed expansion of NATO violates the legal principle of indivisible security historically signed up to by the United States, Russia and other members of the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe.© AFP 2022 / KAZBEK BASAYEVRussian special forces soldiers.Ingushetia (File) Russian special forces soldiers.Ingushetia (File) Instead, what the US and NATO appear to be offering is possible negotiations on “secondary issues”. They include arms controls and the conduct of military exercises in and around the European regions.The question under consideration in Moscow is: will Russia take up discussions on “secondary issues” as a way to keep open the channels of diplomacy and dialogue? Or should Russia insist on the US and NATO recognising its core security concerns?The problem is this: the secondary issues are just that, secondary. What is the point of having agreements about arms controls and conduct of military exercises when the US and NATO can continue expanding offensive forces all around Russia’s borders?There is also the paramount issue of credibility and integrity. The United States and its NATO allies have undercut Russia at every step since the dissolution of the Soviet Union 30 years ago in a relentless expansion of military forces towards Russia’s borders. Every past assurance of not expanding NATO has been broken. So, why should anything that Washington signs up to concerning arms controls or NATO war drills be trusted as reliable?More importantly, Russia’s core security concerns are implicitly about the inherent strategic purpose of NATO. To ignore those concerns by engaging in secondary concerns is to do so at mortal peril.© REUTERS / Ints KalninsNATO eFP battle group soldiers wait for NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visit in Tapa military base, Estonia September 6, 2017NATO eFP battle group soldiers wait for NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visit in Tapa military base, Estonia September 6, 2017NATO is an instrument of American imperialist power. As Michael Hudson points out in a recent incisive article, NATO is all about upholding US hegemony over Europe. To achieve that it is essential for the United States to militarise relations between Europe and Russia, as well as China. Inescapably and fundamentally, the nature of US global power means that international relations are trapped in a paradigm of conflict, confrontation, and ultimately war.

As Hudson writes: “What worries American diplomats is that Germany, other NATO nations and countries along the [China-led] Belt and Road route understand the gains that can be made by opening up peaceful trade and investment. If there is no Russian or Chinese plan to invade or bomb them, what is the need for NATO? What is the need for such heavy purchases of US military hardware by America's affluent allies?”

That is why, under prevailing ambitions of US hegemony, for Washington, the expansion of NATO must continue without restriction. Because the aim is intrinsically a hostile design on Russia. As long as Russia seeks to remain an independent global power with an independent vision of economic development as in Eurasian integration with China, then it will be a target for US imperial enmity. In that context, NATO’s eastward expansion is all about entrenching hostility towards Russia and keeping European allies under Washington’s economic and military suzerainty.The problem is not Russia’s so-called escalation, as the Western media portray. The root problem stems from the US escalation of military forces over the past three decades against Russia in the form of its NATO instrument growing without relent and putting a blade to Russia’s throat. The core issue is American imperial hostility towards Russia and any other perceived global rival.© AFP 2022 / Wojtek RADWANSKI US soldiers are pictured prior the beginning of the official welcoming ceremony of NATO troops in Orzysz, Poland, on April 13, 2017.US soldiers are pictured prior the beginning of the official welcoming ceremony of NATO troops in Orzysz, Poland, on April 13, 2017. The Cold War never went away because the inherent militarism of American capitalist power never went away. Indeed, it has only become more rampant and reckless with regard to trashing international law and the UN Charter and waging endless criminal wars of aggression.What should Russia do? Moscow should keep focused on its core security demands and not be distracted into thinking that some kind of detente can be achieved by agreeing to “secondary issues”.Russia is right to insist on halting NATO expansion and on a weapons-free zone around its borders. To pretend that those vital concerns are debatable is to bury your head in the sand about the existential threat of US imperialism towards Russia.

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