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NATO’s ‘Deterrence’ Doctrine Against Russia Masks Own Existential Fears, Advisor to Polish Prez Says

© AP Photo / Mindaugas KulbisMembers of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division 3rd Brigade Combat Team 68th Armoured Regiment 1st Battalion stand in front of an Abrams battle tank after arriving at the Gaiziunai railway station, some 110 kms (69 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, 10 February 2017.
Members of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division 3rd Brigade Combat Team 68th Armoured Regiment 1st Battalion stand in front of an Abrams battle tank after arriving at the Gaiziunai railway station, some 110 kms (69 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, 10 February 2017. - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.01.2022
Tensions between Moscow and the Western alliance have been exacerbated by the endless crisis in Ukraine, and the bloc’s decades-long crawl toward Russia’s western frontiers. Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed a way out of the crisis in the form of two draft security agreements.
The NATO concept of “deterrence” of Russia has failed, with Moscow calling the bloc’s bluff in the recent standoff over Ukraine and making the alliance look “pathetic,” Witold Modzelewski, Poland’s ex-deputy finance minister and a member the National Development Council – an advisory body to the Polish president, believes.
In a recent op-ed in the Mywsl Polska weekly, Modzelewski argued that “for years, the most frequently repeated word to define NATO’s overall policy toward Russia is ‘deterrence’,” with the concept having two possible definitions.
“The first is that Russia will take at face value the formidable threats posed by NATO, which is backed by the world’s ‘only superpower’ and Germany’s Bundeswehr, consisting of Turks and Polish emigrants, and meekly yield as country after country in the former Soviet Union faces the application of a policy of the ‘(repeatedly) squeezed lemon’ under the guise of economic and political liberalization,” Modzelewski wrote.
“The second, more prosaic and realistic interpretation presents deterrence as a proportional reaction to one’s own fears resulting from the awareness that the military, economic and strength of the side making threats is decreasing year after year. This is an irreversible process, and in 20 years the ethnic reconstruction of most Western countries will result in political consequences: immigrant parties will begin to win elections, and the ‘great patron’ will have two adversaries more important than Russia: its own society and China,” he argued.
Modzelewski thinks that Europe’s politicians and military men came to genuinely believe in the idea of the ‘Russian threat’, deciding to “cover up their fear with self-deception, arguing ‘we are afraid of Moscow, but it should also be afraid of us, because we are ‘holding it back’.’”
“What, in practice, is this deterrence based on? Put another way, what is the ‘club’ in the hands of NATO that Russia should be afraid of if it disobeys the West? We do not know, but it’s probable that no one believes that the soldiers of any country in the alliance will want to die fulfilling their obligations under Article Five [of the NATO founding treaty], which we are reminded about constantly,” the official noted.
“Let’s look at the situation objectively,” Modzelewski urged. “Will a Spanish or Belgian soldier…be ready to face injury, or even put up with military hardships (for example, lack of clean toilets) in the ‘drive on Moscow?’ The only country that is ‘pumped up’ for this role is, of course, Poland. They are imposing on us our supposed ‘inborne Russophobia’ (similar to the anti-Semitism supposedly absorbed by Poles with their mother’s milk) so that Polish troops will be the only army that will come to the aide of NATO’s eastern flank.”
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“One ubiquitous internet Russophobe has even outlined the following scenario: Russia attacks Lithuania or Latvia, the Polish army comes to their aid and is completely destroyed; we will be defenseless for a time, but then the West will come to the rescue (presumably using the Portuguese, Luxembourgers and Bulgarians), Putin’s armies will be defeated, and Poland will be freed from the Russian yoke,” the advisor quipped.
“Perhaps I should take pity and stop mocking the ‘deterrence’ doctrine, and instead share one observation: When Russia, showing no fear, began to pull troops toward the Ukrainian border without any signs of fear, the followers of the ‘deterrence’ doctrine disappeared somewhere. The concept proved a failure, so they hid, shaking in terror and looking pathetic. ‘Deterrence’ was shown to be a primitive bluff based on a contemptuous attitude toward the ‘ignorant Russians’ who, it was believed, were so stupid that they would be unable to make a real assessment of NATO military power,” Modzelewski wrote.
There is one other explanation, the former deputy minister suggested –that the “fairy tales of deterrence were just a smoke screen behind which hid the strategic goal of rapprochement between Russia and many countries of Old Europe. They no longer conceal their aversion to American domination, and fear federalization [of the European Union] under German rule. Russia is needed in this game, and with its help it will be possible to get rid of the ‘unwanted states’ in the form of some Eastern European countries, which have become useless anyway, since everything possible has already been squeezed out of them.”
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Richelieu site of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, after the completion of the renovation project and the 300th anniversary of the installation of the royal collections, in Paris, France, September 28, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.09.2021
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Modzelewski’s op-ed isn’t the first time that the government advisor, who is also a professor of finance law at the University of Warsaw, and the author of a series of books on Russian-Polish relations, has challenged the conventional wisdoms of Poland’s foreign policy. In 2019, the academic made headlines in Polish media after accusing the government of making Warsaw look like “idiots” by “spending billions on some decommissioned weapons from the Americans, who usually humiliate their clients.”
The same year, Modzelewski lamented that he doesn’t believe anyone, himself particularly, “can influence what kind of foreign policy the president pursues.”
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Tension Ties

Russia-NATO tensions have been exacerbated in recent months amid claims by Kiev and its backers that Moscow has massed troops on the border in preparation to ‘invade’ Ukraine. Russian officials dismissed the allegations, while stressing that Moscow will not be dictated to regarding where it stations troops on its own territory.
In mid-December, the Russian Foreign Ministry published a pair of comprehensive draft treaties between Moscow and Washington and Russia and NATO. The proposed agreements call for legally binding commitments for parties not to deploy troops, missiles, aircraft and warships in areas where they may be considered a threat to the other side. The US and NATO are asked to halt their eastward expansion, and to reject plans to absorb Ukraine. The Western alliance is also asked to limit the deployment of weapons and troops in members of the alliance which joined the bloc after 1997 (i.e. when its eastward expansion began).
Russian and US officials met in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday and spent nearly eight hours discussing the security proposals. The talks were described as “difficult, long, very professional, deep, specific, without any attempts to embellish anything” by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the US would like to meet again “soon.”
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman (L) and Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (R) attend security talks on soaring tensions over Ukraine, at the US permanent Mission, in Geneva, on January 10, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.01.2022
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Russian and NATO officials will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the draft treaties, followed by a meeting of the Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe Thursday.
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