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memri
August 1, 2018 No.
7600

Russia-NATO Update: Russia's Defense Minister Shoigu: NATO Is Trying To Prevent Russia From Becoming A Geopolitical Rival

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.

Putin Warns: NATO Should Consider The Consequences Of Adding Ukraine And Georgia To The Alliance


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

On July 19, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in a meeting of ambassadors and permanent representatives of Russia at international organizations and associations. During the meeting, Putin tackled Russia-NATO relations.

Putin said: "The key to providing security and safety in Europe is in expanding cooperation and restoring trust, and not in deploying new NATO bases and military infrastructure near Russia’s borders, which is what is taking place now.

"We will respond appropriately to such aggressive steps, which pose a direct threat to Russia. Our colleagues, who are trying to aggravate the situation, seeking to include, among others, Ukraine and Georgia in the orbit of the alliance, should think about the possible consequences of such an irresponsible policy.

"We need a new, positive agenda aimed at collaboration and attempts to find common ground. Of course, I discussed this during my meeting with the President of the United States, Mr. Trump.

"With our views being different on many matters, we agreed that Russia-US relations are deeply unsatisfactory and in many ways even worse than during the Cold War.

"Of course, it would be naive to believe that the problems that piled up over years would be resolved in a matter of several hours. No one was counting on this. However, I believe that we have embarked on a path to positive changes."

(Kremlin.ru, July 19, 2018)

Latvian MP Calls To Dismember Russia Into Small Countries

Alexander Kirshtejns, Deputy Speaker of the Latvian parliament, from the bloc of the National Association, stated that Russia must be split into sections, for the sake of the peace in Europe. Kirshtejns wrote in his Twitter account: "Only when Russia will be divided in small countries, based on the ethnic structure, the military conflicts will end, and Europe will reach peace for many years."

(Twitter.com/akirstei, July 28, 2018)

It is worth noting that Kirshtejns, back in January, labeled Russian "the language of international Zionism."

(Baltnews.lv, January 4, 2018)

Commenting on the tweet, MP Leonid Kalashnikov, the chairman of Russian State Duma’s Committee for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), told RIA Novosti that Kirshtejns' statements demonstrate that Russian concern over NATO bases in the Baltic countries is justified.

"We should not be shy, we should offer tough resistance. Resistance not even to such statements but rather the danger of our country being split up that arises after them," added Kalashnikov.

(Sputniknews.com, July 18, 2018)

(Source: Twitter.com/akirstei, July 28, 2018)

Russia's Minister Of Defense Shoigu: Russia Would Respond If Finland And Sweden Joined NATO

On July 24, the meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry Board Session convened in Moscow. The Russian Ministry of Defense provided an account of the meeting as follows:

"… The Defense Minister drew attention to the growing momentum of the negative trend towards targeted increased military activity­ of the NATO in Eastern Europe. 'Strengthening of Russia as an independent international player does not give rest to our colleagues from the NATO,' Sergey Shoigu said – 'They are trying to prevent Russia from becoming geopolitical rival, even more that has allies.'

"This involves various institutions, including international, and many areas – politics, economics and even culture and sports. 'In these conditions we demonstrate openness, friendliness and absence of any aggression against other countries. The World Cup proved this point,' said the Defense Minister…

"Returning to the increasing military activity of NATO, Sergei Shoigu noted that, 'while the foreign guests [at the World Cup] spoke enthusiastically about Russia and has disproved the myth about our hostility, another NATO summit took place in Brussels, which confirmed the confrontation of the countries­ members.'

"The build-up of NATO contingents from extra-regional countries continues in Eastern Europe. Since 2014 their number has increased from 2,000 to 15,000 troops.

"The intensity of the training ­activities is constantly increasing.

"Since the beginning of the year, they held for more than 100 exercises, involving up to 80,000 soldiers. At the same time, the number of personnel, annually involved in the trainings over the five years has grown ten times (from two thousand to 20 thousand people), and the number of combat aircraft-in 10 times (from 11 pieces to 101).

"With the help of the United States, five cyber warfare centers were deployed in Finland, Estonia, Poland, Germany­ and France. 'One may get concerned about ... Finland and Sweden [joining] NATO. In May they signed a treaty providing for their full participation in the exercises of the NATO and its C2 and weapons systems. In return, the NATO got unhindered access to airspace and ­territorial waters of these countries,' Sergey Shoigu said, stressing that 'such steps of our Western colleagues lead to the destruction of the existing system of security in the world, gave rise to even more distrust, forcing us to respond.'

"The Defense Minister expressed the hope that 'held July 16 at Helsinki Summit Russia-United States will deepen Russian military cooperation with Washington and NATO countries, will consolidate the efforts of the parties in the interests of common security.'

"Turning to the agenda of the meeting, the head of the military department offered to discuss the plan for land forces.

"Sergey Shoigu said that in 2016 in the framework of the implementation of this Plan more than 350 events were held.

"One combined army, four motorized rifle and one armored divisions, one rocket, two artillery and one air defense brigade were formed.

"The modernization improved the combat characteristics of ten types of weapons and military equipment. Five new samples, superior in its capabilities to the best foreign analogues were developed and entered the service with the armed forces. These are: the fighting vehicle, Tornado-S multiple rocket launcher, Tor-M2 short-range anti-aircraft missile complex, and Typhoon-K and Typhoon-U armored vehicles.

"In some army units of 5,000 new and upgraded weapons and military hardware.

"In total, 7,698 exercises at various levels were held since 2016 This is 17 percent more than in the same period of the previous years.

"In preparation for the International Army Games 2018 some 2,000 contests and competitions were organized involving almost all units of the army…

"The following issue on the agenda was devoted to the status of implementation of the activity plan of the Western Military District.

"As stated by the Minister of Defense, 'the situation, down to the Western strategic direction requires us to continuously improve the combat troop and their home system.'

"For these purposes since 2016 there was more than 70 military units formed, including two divisions and three brigades.

"Necessary infrastructure is being created to accommodate them. It is planned to put into operation more than 350 objects by late 2018.

"In some army units of 5,000 new and upgraded weapons and military hardware.

"For example, the number of units and the military bases that score well on the results of the inspection in winter training this year, increased by 15 percent. 'In many ways, this contributed to modern approaches to training of personnel, use of experience of the application of forces and means, including in the Syrian Arab Republic,' stressed the Minister of Defense.

"Special attention, according to the head of the military department, is paid to the preparation of the Regional grouping of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation.

"It was noted that Western military district together with our Belarus colleagues have already started the preparation of the Union Shield 2019 joint operational exercise.

"Afterwards, participants of the meeting considered how the 2016-2020 Plan for engineering troops is being implemented.

"The Minister of Defense has stated that the construction and development of the armed forces during the reporting period provided a balanced structure of engineering troops.

"In total, 19 formations, military units and organizations have been formed.

"The troops received more than 2,000 pieces of engineering equipment and 300,000 sets of engineering equipment, more than 30,000 engineering ammunition.

"Set of Uran 6 multifunctional robotic demining systems proved well in Syria.

"Thus, the share of modern weaponry and military equipment in the army brought to 65 per cent.

"Russian experts of the International Mine Action Center in Syria, cleared more than six and a half thousand hectares of territory and 17 thousand different buildings, and cleared 105 thousand explosive objects.

"They trained 1,245 Syrian engineers who then cleared about 2,000 hectares, 3,850 defused explosive devices..."

(Mil.ru, July 24, 2018)

Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov: NATO Cannot Dictate To Other Countries How To Handle International Security Matters; Dialogue Is Required


(Source: Mid.ru)

During an interview with Larry King’s "Politicking" show on RT, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:

"Well, NATO is a reality. It is an atavism of the Cold War times, but it is a reality and we take it as a reality. We do not believe that what NATO is doing, by trying to expand further and further closer to Russian borders, swallowing countries, which, frankly, do not add to the security of the Alliance, we don’t believe this is the way to resolve the problems of today. Today, we have common threats, common enemies: terrorism, climate change, organized crime, drug trafficking. None of this is being effectively addressed by NATO expansion.

"NATO should certainly be taken as a reality, as I have said, but NATO should understand that it cannot dictate to each and every other country how to handle the international security matters. Dialogue is required. We have been proposing many things to NATO, which we can do together: counter-terrorism, the discussions of military doctrines, and the discussion of transparency measures in military build-up.

"All this was frozen after the referendum in Crimea. NATO took exactly the same approach, as it took in August 2008. Then, President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia launched a war against his own people in South Ossetia. And then we demanded a convening of the NATO-Russia Council, but Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State at that time, said 'no way, we cannot discuss anything with an aggressor'. Then, she corrected herself and all NATO-members agreed that NATO-Russia Council must be the all-weather forum and that especially at a time of crisis, it should function on the basis of equality and taking into account the interests of each other.

"After the Crimean referendum, which was free and fair, as I have said, and as many international observers assert, the mistake was repeated once again. As of the defense expenditure, even without any further rise, the current statistics is that NATO together with the US spends about 20 times more than Russia spends on its defense. Without the United States, the Europeans spend about 4 times more than Russia spends on its defense budget. I assume that it might be partially related to the productivity of labor, to the difference in productivity of labor, but this cannot be the only explanation."

(Mid.ru, July 14, 2018)

Read More:

  • Russia's Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said in an interview that Poland and Baltic countries want to tighten the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions. (Tass.com, July 23, 2018; read the full article)
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko stated that Russia and NATO member states have the sufficient basis for preventing dangerous military incidents and Moscow is ready for developing dialogue in this sphere. (Tass.com, July 26, 2018; read the full article)
  • Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ Main Combat Training Department Lieutenant-General Ivan Buvaltsev told Rossiya-24 TV Channel: "This year, we have sent out invitations as usual to NATO member states. But only a team from Greece will take part to the [International Army Games, July 28-August 12]. (Tass.com, July 27, 2018)
  • Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan said that his country does not seek NATO membership. (Tass.com, July 26, 2018; read the full article)