WASHINGTON, September 6 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova - The NATO summit that just finished in Wales has only widened and deepened the gap between the alliance and Russia over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a veteran American foreign correspondent Martin Sieff told RIA Novosti Friday.
"The NATO summit was very negative and worrying," Sieff said. "In the name of confronting alleged Russian aggression and subversion in Ukraine, the NATO nations, led by the United States, have further deepened the great chasm between them and Russia over the Ukraine crisis and other issues. That gap is now wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon and far more dangerous."
The summit ended Friday afternoon with NATO members, making strong statements about plans to improve military readiness, responsiveness, and commitments to Article 5 collective defense principles. The members have also agreed to extend a 15 million euro fund to Ukraine for economic and military support, as well as to expand the alliance’s command and logistics infrastructure in Eastern Europe and form a new force of several thousand troops ready to mobilize quickly in case an alliance country comes under attack.
"It is essential for the peace of Europe and the world that the United States and NATO return to the policy of seeking constructive dialogue and partnership with Russia," Sieff underlined. “For the cold truth is that NATO does not even have the raw military power to maintain peace and security across Europe by itself."
According to IHS Jane's Defence Budgets, 13 of the top 20 most rapidly declining defense budgets from 2012 to 2014 are NATO members or partners.
"NATO has no treaty obligation to support Ukraine or go to war on behalf of it," Sieff asserted, adding that the agreement on sending 15 million euros in military aid to Ukraine brings back eerie memories of the early US commitments to send military aid and “advisers” to the unpopular, corrupt and inefficient government of South Vietnam under President Ngo Dinh Diem in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
"That commitment gradually escalated until 58,000 American soldiers and around 3 million Vietnamese were killed in an avoidable war," he asserted. "The cost of a rapidly growing US military commitment to protect the Poroshenko regime in Ukraine could prove to be far worse."
On Thursday, a White House spokesperson said that the United States is preparing a new set of sanctions against Russia, and the European Union was expected to do the same.
"Sanctions will not force Russia to back down: They will only drive the Russian government and popular opinion in Russia into a more extreme anti-Western stance," Sieff stressed. "Yet the United States in particular needs increased cooperation with Russia to deal with the rising Islamist threat in Iraq and Syria."
Sieff noted that the US media remains oblivious to the scale of suffering in eastern Ukraine and the true causes of it.
"Broadcast coverage is superficial, occasional and brief and the op-ed pages of the major newspapers are in a lockstep conformity on the issue far worse than they were before the 2003 Iraq war," he said.
"Yet the humanitarian situation in Ukraine is getting steadily worse. More and more Ukrainian refugees are fleeing to Russia," Sieff concluded.
Members of the Contact Group on Ukrainian reconciliation completed their meeting in Minsk, during which they agreed on a ceasefire, exchange of prisoners and humanitarian aid.
The ceasefire regime came into force at 6 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT).
Friday’s talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk involved representatives from Kiev government, Ukrainian southeastern regions, Russia and the OSCE.