23:50 GMT08 August 2020
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    With NATO approaching its 70th anniversary, the aging military alliance is continuing to expand its reach, a "dangerous move," Ann Wright, a former US State Department official in Afghanistan who resigned in protest at the invasion of Iraq and became a prominent anti-war activist, tells Sputnik.

    "It's a continuation of 70 years of expansion of NATO," even after the Cold War ended, Wright told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Tuesday. "All of a sudden NATO countries — pushed by the United States — have raked up again the Cold War rhetoric and action."

    "NATO is expanding, and it's a dangerous move," she added.

    ​NATO foreign ministers will be meeting this week in Washington, DC, to commemorate the alliance's 70th anniversary, which is marked on April 4. Various attending NATO officials will be meeting at the US Department of State and elsewhere to give speeches and attend conferences.

    This week's agenda will also include discussions on NATO relations with Russia, the fight against terrorism and, of course, military spending. But it won't all be congratulatory high-fives and praise of the alliance; in fact, several protests against the organization are set to take place this week.

    Wright told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that demonstrations are being carried out in an effort to "bring attention to our policymakers both in the White House and in Congress that we do not believe expansion of NATO is what should be going on, nor do we believe that the current group of NATO should be taking such aggressive actions toward Russia."

    In recent years, relations between Russia and Western countries have deteriorated. The November 2018 incident in the Kerch Strait in which three Ukrainian ships were detained after illegally entering Russian waters and the continued NATO drills near Russia's border have played a role in weakening relations.

    Earlier this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg indicated that the bloc was preparing to end its compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, following the US' move to withdraw from the pact over allegations that Moscow had violated the agreement's terms.

    Speaking to NATO's ever-growing reach, Wright told Becker that it was "amazing how the NATO mandate has been expanded by the United States, and how all these European countries have gone along with it."

    "It's very interesting… It's becoming a much different organization than what was envisioned 70 years ago," she stressed.

    According to Wright, NATO's expansion is rooted in the desires of the US military industrial complex. "In order to sell weapons, you need to have an enemy, and the enemy during the Cold War that sold lots of weapons for NATO was the Soviet Union," she said.

    "The policy makers who have gotten paid off by the weapons industry, they've already had wars in Iraq, they've had wars in Afghanistan," she continued. "They need another enemy to keep selling all these weapons, and so the rhetoric starts to get hotter and hotter and hotter."

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    NATO expansion, anniversary, NATO, Washington DC, Russia, United States
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