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    Conflicting Viewpoints: Perhaps "Aggressive" Russia is not All Wrong?

    © Sputnik / Natalia Seliverstova
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    For decades, Russia and the West have held differing opinions of each other. Russia believes that Europe and NATO have been "provocative" and "aggressive" breaching old contracts and sneaking into Russia's backyard. While this may be remarkable from a Western perspective - it is also correct, a Danish professor argued.

    For Ole Wæver, a professor of international politics at the University of Copenhagen, the idea that Russia is a threat to the West is absurd. In fact, it is quite the opposite, as historically the West has been a threat to Russia.

    "In many ways, the Russians are much more correct than the West in their interpretation of what happened in the first 20 years after the Cold War until 2010. Russia's interpretation is much closer to reality than the West. We have treated them disrespectfully, as if they were a third-rate power," Wæver told the Danish newspaper Politiken.

    According to Wæver, it is only natural that Russia has perceived NATO's behavior as "aggressive," as a number of former Soviet states have successfully integrated into NATO, despite earlier pledges by the alliance to stay away from these particular countries. Wæver also pointed out a series of military build-ups that NATO effectively carried out under the pretext of "Russian aggression," such as the accumulation of warships and tanks in the Baltic Sea area or the deployment of missile defense elements in Romania.

    For the West, Russia's "annexation" of the Crimean peninsula served as perfect proof of Moscow's "aggressive" intentions. According to Ole Wæver, this should not be seen as a Russian expansion, but rather as a strategy for simply checking out what you may and may not. Wæver describes Russia's behavior as "seizing the initiative and doing something surprising."

    According to Weaver, it is completely wrong to interpret this as a Russian expansion, as Russia is very well aware that an attack against a NATO country is ruled out. Therefore, the fear of a Russian invasion of eastern European countries exaggerated.

    However, NATO still plans to deploy up to 6,000 troops in the Baltic countries, as well as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria to parry an imaginary Russian threat. Denmark is currently deciding on whether to contribute with 150 troops to NATO's buildup in the Baltic. Remarkably, Ole Wæver believes it is actually a good idea, as it can help to plug the remaining security holes in Europe. According to him, the Baltic is one of the few areas, where Russia could "wreak havoc." However, he believes, NATO should simultaneously refrain from deploying troops to Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as drop the "stupid" missile system altogether.

    Last week, Russia's ambassador to Denmark, Mikhail Vanin, accused Denmark of being "hostile" and "anti-Russian" in an interview with Politiken.

    "It is a provocation and there will naturally be a Russian response. Not aggressive, but we will strengthen our defenses because of it. We cannot support this decision. We need to end this chapter of hostilities — but it comes first and foremost from the Danish side, not the Russian," Vanin told Politiken.

    "Russia can obviously never like the fact that US and other non-Baltic warships keep sailing close to our territory or naval bases. Naturally, we do not behave likewise in the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. We do not come into your backyard, do not come into ours," Vanin said. 

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    NATO, Scandinavia, Baltic Sea, Estonia, Russia, Copenhagen, Denmark
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