NATO, Russia and threat of ‘great war'

NATO, Russia and threat of ‘great war'
Wed Sep 3, 2014 07:40:03

It seems that NATO and Russia are edging toward to an all-out military conflict over the looming crisis in Ukraine. Both sides have intensified war rhetoric in recent days and vowed to take further retaliatory actions.

Following the imposition of several rounds of sanctions on Russian companies and individuals by the US, EU and their allies, Moscow showed no retreat from its stance over Ukraine.

Russia also took retaliatory measures against Washington and European countries to show that it has enough means to fight the Westerners. The Europeans, who fell into the trap of US policies against Russia, acknowledged that Russian sanctions will backfire and cost them billions of dollars.

The crisis started in the ex-Soviet state in February when the pro-Moscow president was sacked by pro-West forces. Since then, Crimea region in eastern Ukraine voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to join Russia. Following these developments, Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Moscow forces and the Ukrainian army in the two flashpoint regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which held local referendums in favor of independence from Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers charge a Grad multiple rocket launcher system, near the eastern Ukrainian city of Shchastya, Lugansk region, on August 18, 2014.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of fueling the crisis in east Ukraine, but Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and criticized its Western neighbor for the heavy crackdown on pro-Russia protesters in the east.

The crisis escalated further in recent days and it seems that it is entering a military phase after Kiev asked NATO to consider its membership to the military alliance and provide the country with military aid to face Russia. Even, Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey has warned of an impending ‘great war’ in Europe following the recent retreats of Ukrainian army against pro-Moscow forces.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also helped the crisis become more complicated when said that the military alliance plans to approve the creation of a high-readiness force and the stockpiling of military equipment and supplies in eastern Europe to deal with Russia. Moscow also reacted to the comments, vowing to adopt a beefed-up military doctrine over NATO’s plans that could trigger a military conflict in the region.

Moscow says if the 28-nation alliance approves its military expansion plans in eastern Europe—a 4,000-strong spearhead force—during its two-day Wales meeting, it will also beef up its military presence near Ukraine’s border because Kremlin considers it a provocative move. Russians have also warned that they even may use nuclear weapons should national security be considered a grave danger as ‘Russia’s 2010 military doctrine’ already permits such move.

This is another sign that the two sides are approaching a military conflict because under ‘the 1997 Founding Act’ that was viewed as ending the Cold War, NATO pledged to the Russian government that it would not have a permanent troop presence in any of the former Warsaw Pact states.

Although NATO claims that its proposed plans are not aimed at Russia, evidences however reflect something different. Analysts warn this is just the beginning of a bigger conflict that may engulf entire Europe if it is not settled through diplomatic means.

Russia showed that it will not tolerate any military presence on its doorstep and is ready to pay any price to defend its national interests. Although, the EU has warned that it is drawing up another round of sanctions against Russia, at the same time certain European states warn about grave consequences of Russian retaliatory measures and a possible halt to Russian gas flow to Europe that will inflict heavy losses on them. The tit-for-tat actions are continuing as the horizon becomes dark for both sides.

By Davood Baqeri, the chief editor

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