NATO seeks permanent presence near Russia: Analyst

Press TV — April 30, 2016

Press TV has interviewed James Jatras, former US Senate foreign policy analyst in Washington, to discuss the remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the NATO military alliance is moving closer to Russia’s borders, warning that Moscow will take necessary measures to protect its security.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Russia claims that it is NATO which is moving ever more closely to Russia’s borders, it is not Russia that is being the provocative entity in this back and forth, tit for tat. Your thoughts?

Jatras: Well there are two aspects to this. One is you mentioned the Russia-NATO Founding Act by which NATO said we would not put basing or permanent basing in the newly expanded countries to the east. But recently NATO has been playing games with a “rotation” rather than basing, the idea of maintaining a more or less permanent presence there on a rotation basis without actually having bases.

As far as these maneuvers and these dangerous things that NATO is complaining about with respect to Russia, it is interesting that if you look at the Western media they very rarely say where these things take place and we are talking about 40 to 60 miles from the Russian coastline usually near some major military establishments and of course they are going to get buzzed by Russian planes. If a Russian ship came that close to a US base in north of Virginia or San Diego, I should hope that American planes would go out there and challenge them …

Press TV: And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said that Russia is open to talks and dialogue with NATO. Is that likely to take place? If so, how and if not, who would be opposed to it?

Jatras: I think there will be talks. The NATO-Russia Council just met for the first time in a couple of years recently but it was very acrimonious, nothing was agreed on. They will meet but they will not decide anything and they will not come to any constructive conclusion to this difference of opinion.

Press TV: And what do you think about this quote from the foreign minister? Lavrov said that NATO’s thirst or greed for geopolitical space is out of control. What are your thoughts on that?

Jatras: I think expanding NATO was a very, very bad idea. In fact it really had no business staying around as an organization after 1991 when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact went out of business.

It is simply a self-perpetuating political machine. It is encroaching on areas of vital interests to Russia to no benefit for the American national security and that is why it is really foolish and dangerous.

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