US Should Have Backed Russian Bid to Join 'European Sphere', Not Enlarged NATO

© AFP 2022 / Savo PRELEVICCars pass by a billboard showing US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on November 16, 2016
Cars pass by a billboard showing US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin placed by pro-Serbian movement in the town of Danilovgrad on November 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
Washington should have supported Russia's move to forge ties with Europe following the collapse of communism instead of focusing on NATO's enlargement, Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute, told Sputnik.

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In an interview with Sputnik, Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute, urged Washington to welcome Russia's desire to move closer to Europe, instead of focusing on NATO's expansion.

The interview came after Reince Priebus, the Republican's pick for White House chief of staff, said that US President-elect Donald Trump will accept that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections if the intelligence services come to a joint conclusion on the issue.

Last week, several US media sources reported that the CIA and the FBI had allegedly concluded that Russian hackers had interfered in the 2016 elections to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama suggested during his last news conference that the cyberattacks were likely initiated at "the highest levels of the Russian government."

However, Ivan Eland believes that Washington's stance on the issue might be regarded as hypocritical by most of the world, as the US commonly meddles in the elections processes of other countries.

In his article for CNN, Eland also noted that Russia has many reasons to feel insecure about its borders because of Washington's saber-rattling. Apart from this, he added that the US needs Russia's help in countering Islamist terrorism.

Speaking to Sputnik, Eland reiterated that Moscow and Washington should bolster bilateral cooperation on the issue.

"In the case of Russia and the US, they have thousands of nuclear weapons each and Russia remains the only county which can wipe the US off the map [using] nuclear weapons and vice versa. So I think both countries need good relations and to develop cooperation to fight radical Islamic terrorism," he said.

Eland added that the US had pursued the wrong policy following the Cold War because it did not "accept Russia into the community of nations."

"I don't think we took the right approach in the wake of the Cold War, and we should have welcomed Russia into the European sphere instead of extending NATO," he pointed out, referring to Trump calling for better relations with Moscow. 

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Since 2014, NATO has been building up its military presence in Europe, especially in Eastern European countries neighboring Russia, using Moscow's alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict as a pretext.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the claims and warned NATO that the military buildup on Russia's borders is provocative and threatens the existing strategic balance of power.

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