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    An undated US Navy picture shows what appears to be a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft making a very low pass close to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea.

    Absence of Adversaries Challenges NATO's Financial Existence

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    There is still no response from NATO to Russia’s initiative on enhancing the security of military jet flights over the Baltic Sea; Russian political analyst Dmitry Zhuravlev suggests that its silence only proves that it is not interested in improving relations with Russia, and on the contrary that it needs adversaries to justify its existence.

    NATO has still not responded to Russia's proposal to discuss military flights over the Baltic Sea with their transponders switched on, Russian Foreign Ministry General European Co-operation Department Director Andrei Kelin told the media on Wednesday.

    The suggestion was made by Russia's envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko at the NATO-Russia Council, a forum which brought together Russia and the 28 NATO ambassadors earlier in July.

    Grushko suggested that Russian pilots could turn on their cockpit transmitters, known as transponders, if alliance planes did the same.

    “We proposed in absolutely practical terms that the issue be discussed in Moscow at the end of August or in early September, and we invited NATO military experts to come to the Russian capital for this purpose. There has been no response so far," Andrei Kelin said on Wednesday.

    "And I perfectly understand that there is going to be a complex struggle between the so-called frontline states, which are seeking to make sure that our military contacts are not resumed, and much more soberly-thinking people believing that this is simply objective reality,” the diplomat added.

    Commenting on the above remarks, Dmitry Zhuravlev, the general director of the Institute of Regional Problems told Radio Sputnik why the frontline states are gaining an upper hand in this issue.

    “NATO is a military alliance and the absence of an adversary is a serious blow to its mere existence, primarily in terms of financing,” he told Sputnik.

    “The existence of some tension is very useful for it. And in case the problem is settled a logical question will arise: is it really necessary to allocate so much funding to the alliance,” he explained.

    It will then need to prove its own relevance and value.

    It is logical therefore, he noted, that NATO will take the side of the frontline states in this issue.

    The analyst further explained that the Baltic States are the major opponents to any agreements on the security in the region.

    “The Baltic States are not interested in any technical issues whether to switch on or off the transponders, but are rather interested in military and political aspects in pursuing their only goal that “the Russians should not fly over the Baltics,” the expert said.

    However, if these countries get engaged in the negotiations on the issue of switch-on of the identification systems, they will admit the necessity of these flights. And it is unacceptable for these states.

    For them, it is not a military-technical issue, but a military-political one, he added.

    Dmitry Zhuravlev nevertheless suggested that this issue could be resolved only after the US presidential elections.

    “Only the US can really have an impact on NATO member states and the Baltic countries. However the US is not voicing its stance on the issue as it is fully absorbed in the upcoming elections,” he said.

    The expert further explained that its stance will depend on who eventually comes to office: it will be one position if it is Republican nominee Donald Trump and it will be an absolutely different one if it is Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    Therefore, American diplomats are unwilling to voice their positions ahead of time, meaning that the transponder issue will be pending until the elections, the analyst suggested.

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    Tags:
    flights, security, 2016 US Presidential election, NATO, Dmitry Zhuravlev, Andrei Kelin, Baltic Region, Baltic Sea, United States, Russia
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