Russia-NATO Update is a new monthly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest news on Russia-NATO relations from the Russian and East European media.
At the NATO summit, which took place in Brussels on July 11-12, the alliance members agreed on the NATO Readiness Initiative. Explaining the initiative, the NATO website reported:
"Allies have committed, by 2020, to having 30 battalions; 30 air squadrons; and 30 naval combat vessels. Ready to use within 30 days. The initiative aims to enhance the readiness of existing national forces, and their ability to move within Europe and across the Atlantic – in response to a more unpredictable security environment.
"This is not about new forces but about increasing the readiness of forces Allies already have – forces that could be made available for collective defense and crisis response operations. The initiative builds on a series of steps taken to increase the readiness of Allied forces."
The NATO Website also noted that over the past few years, the Alliance has tripled the size of the NATO "Response Force to around 40,000 troops, with a new 5,000-strong Spearhead Force at its core. NATO has also deployed four multinational battle groups to the Baltic States and Poland, increased its presence in the Black Sea region, and set up a number of small headquarters to link national and NATO forces," the NATO website reported.
In the final Brussels Summit Declaration, the alliance members' statement devotes several paragraphs to Russia:
"Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order."
"For over two decades, NATO has worked to build a partnership with Russia, including through the mechanism of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Russia’s recent activities and policies have reduced stability and security, increased unpredictability, and changed the security environment. While NATO stands by its international commitments, Russia has breached the values, principles and commitments which underpin the NATO-Russia relationship…"
"We have also suspended all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia, while remaining open to political dialogue. NATO does not seek confrontation and poses no threat to Russia."
"The Euro-Atlantic security environment has become less stable and predictable as a result of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea and ongoing destabilization of eastern Ukraine; its military posture and provocative military activities, including near NATO borders, such as the deployment of modern dual-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, repeated violation of NATO Allied airspace, and the continued military build-up in Crimea…"
"Russia is also challenging Euro-Atlantic security and stability through hybrid actions, including attempted interference in the election processes, and the sovereignty of our nations, as was the case in Montenegro, widespread disinformation campaigns, and malicious cyber activities."
Below are official Russian reactions to the NATO summit:
Kremlin Spokesperson Peskov: What Is Going On Inside NATO Is None Of Our Business
Commenting on the NATO summit, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said:
"Our attitude [towards NATO] remains unchanged… Russia has retained fairly modest contacts with the alliance. As for what is going on inside [NATO], that’s none of our business…
"Our attitude towards NATO is well known. It is a product of the Cold War era. This is the alliance, which was forged for the purpose of and for the sake of confrontation."
(Tass.com, July 10, 2018)
Russia's MFA: Better To Watch The World Cup
On July 11, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted the following tweet:
""While the useless military block – NATO – accuses us for provocative activities and continues to grit its teeth in Brussels, we get ready to watch the World Cup 2018."
(Twitter.com/MID_RF, July 11, 2018)
Senator Bondarev: The NATO Readiness Initiative Does Not Pose Any Threat To Russia
Commenting on the NATO Readiness Initiative, Viktor Bondarev, chairman defense and security committee of the Russia’s Federation Council, said: "Do their plans to assemble 30 battalions and 30 air squadrons capable of deploying in 30 days pose any threat to Russia? No, they don’t. Even if these plans are implemented… Because our defense in strong, as is our military might. We are capable of countering any potential military threat."
(Tass.com, July 10, 2018)
Ambassador Yakovenko Criticizes NATO Spending: It Is Not About Russia, It Is About World Domination
In a YouTube video, called "Food For Thought", Russia’s Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko compared the defense spending of the United States, NATO and Russia.
"Everybody is following today the NATO summit, and I decided to check how much the United States spends on defense every year… and I discovered that is $ 700 billion. I then checked the NATO [expenditures] and all together is around one trillion [dollars]… Russia [spends on defense] only $ 46 billion, that is, the difference in 20 times."
The Russian Ambassador stated that the military budget shows that it is not just about Russia, but about world domination.
(See the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=66&v=A8C1OCN5QmI)
Russian Senator Kondratiev: Parallels Exist Between Today's Situation and Preparations By Nazi Germany To Attack The USSR
Commenting on the NATO final declaration, Senator Andrey Kondratiev, deputy chair of the Federation Council's Defense and Security Committee, said:
"It's nothing other than hypocrisy. Russia has continuously suggested NATO to get back to previously existing joint cooperation channels. We have proposed - and continue proposing to NATO– to discuss a series of important questions, such as reduction of conventional and nuclear weapons in Europe. In response, however, we get receive a reinforcement of NATO's eastern presence, in close proximity to our borders, though Russia during the last thirty years has not bolstered its weaponry or [military] presence along NATO's borders."
He then added that the situation resembles the atmosphere of 1941, when Hitlerite Germany, while preparing to strike the USSR, made directly antithetical pronouncements. "We don't talk about an attack currently, but parallels obviously exist," said the senator.
(Ria.ru, July 11, 2018)
MP Shvytkin: NATO Has Aggressive Plans Not Russia
Commenting on NATO's communiqué stating that Russia is conducting provocative activities along NATO's borders by deploying missiles in Kaliningrad, MP Yuri Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma's Defense Committee, said:
"As of today, it's precisely NATO that harbors aggressive plans… Definitely this alarms us. Moreover, a possible anticipated growth in military spending… implies a greater potential for this military-political block. Inviting Azerbaijan to NATO's summit proves that an attempt is being made to extend its influence and presence [along Russia's borders]."
(Ria.ru, July 11, 2018)
Senator Kosachev: Are There Any Further Limits To This Absurdity
Senator Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee:
"… Sweeping allegations [against Russia], and the absence of the slightest attempt to soberly analyze the situation and take responsibility for its own mistakes is necessary in order to cover the alliance's main problems- the internal ones."
(Ria.ru, July 11, 2018)
Later, Kosachev posted on his Facebook account:
"I'm reading news about NATO's summit. Here is just one fabulous report:
'Russian Federation conducts provocative activities along NATO's borders, including by missiles deployment in Kaliningrad' – summit's communiqué. Read this once again. Consider what the summit is saying. Are there any further limits to this absurdity?"
(Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002123135703, July 11, 2018)