NATO's attempt to weaken Russia a systematic project

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, Nov. 25 (ChinaMil) -- Since the end of the Cold War, the Warsaw Treaty Organization dissolved immediately, but NATO continued to monitor and contain Russia.

NATO and Russia had their "honeymoon", when NATO held up high the "carrot" in hopes of softening and subduing the "polar bear", and Russia took the western world as its "true friend" and changed its military strategy to "purely defensive" in hopes of being accepted by the west and striving for rejuvenation.

However, NATO never relaxed the containment on Russia and their conflicts never ceased after the "honeymoon" was over. In light of NATO's interests and Russia's strength, it's likely that their bittersweet relationship will continue and NATO's attempt to weaken Russia will be a long and systematic project.

Geopolitically speaking, NATO's eastward expansion has largely squeezed Russia's strategic depth and changed their power landscape.

After the Cold War, NATO has kept expanding eastward and taken in many countries that were once in the Warsaw Treaty Organization or the Soviet Union. Today it has successfully created an alliance around Russia that is opposed to or at least defensive against the country.

Economically speaking, NATO has taken a series of targeted measures to hit Russia's overall national strength such as suppressing the oil and gas price and launching financial sanction.

The U.S. and Europe used the economic crisis to bring down the oil and gas price and kept it on a low level for a long time.

They deliberately reduced oil and gas import from Russia, which led to the depreciation of rouble, rise of consumer goods price and increase of poor population, and launched several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia after the Ukraine crisis.

It marked the closest cooperation between the U.S. and Europe and was the most comprehensive and rigorous sanction since the Cold War, covering a wide range of important areas including finance, energy, national defense, high technology and military-civilian products, adding insult to injury on the Russian economy.

Militarily speaking, NATO lured Russia to expand continuously and hoped that would drain its strength.

NATO believed that when Russia's strategic strength is no longer able to serve its strategic ambition, it will either be subdued or defeated. Under Putin's leadership, however, Russia has displayed strategic control and capability, but given the rising nationalism within the country, whether he will be able to apply military forces with ease is still to be seen.

Russia was a country of surprising strategic resilience in history. With a vast territory, tough national character and abundant population and resources, it showed great power and resilience every time it was oppressed by foreign forces to a critical point.

At first it had false hopes on NATO, but when NATO expanded eastward to its front yard and its core interests were constantly hurt, Russia began to take countermoves in both hard and soft approaches.

On one hand, it avoided any direct and head-on conflict with NATO, and used every opportunity to enhance dialogue and cooperation with it.

On the other hand, it never admitted to inferiority in any way, not only "flexing muscles" through military exercises like NATO did, but also updating its nuclear arsenal at a faster pace to ensure an equilibrium with NATO in nuclear deterrence.

It also took the initiative to crack down upon ISIS terrorist activities to get more bargain chips. Every time NATO suppressed it too much, Russia fought back with even more powerful measures, which was demonstrated by the "Five Days of War" between it and Georgia in 2008 and the military operation against Crimea in 2014.

Of course NATO still needs Russia in Afghanistan, the Middle East and in fighting terrorist and extremist forces.

Besides, NATO isn't so united within. "The U.S. is tougher and Europe is milder, each with its own agenda", and "Central and Eastern Europe is more aggressive while southwestern Europe is more moderate".

Moreover, there are all kinds of connections between Europe and Russia in terms of geopolitics, energy supply and economic and trade cooperation, which decides that NATO's attempt to weaken Russia will be a systematic project and a long journey.

This article is written by Chen Yongyi in Chinese and published on the PLA Daily, Nov. 25, 2016.



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