Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NATO expansion in the Balkans

A Politico EU article by Howard Amos suggests that Russia is pursuing a more active policy in the Balkans against further NATO expansion there. (Vladimir Putin’s man in the Balkans 06/21/17)

The article's narrative structure is a bit confusing. But it says that a hawkish adviser of Putin's, Nikolai Patrushev, has been given a more prominent role in Russian foreign policy for the Balkans. It cites Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations, "Patrushev is definitely one of those people who think Russia is in an existential struggle for its survival. It’s a Cold-War, Manichean vision of the world. And one in which any reversals for the West are implicitly good for Russia."

And Amos reports:

In public statements, Patrushev has claimed the United States is striving to dismember the Russian state to “open up access to rich resources that they think Russia unfairly controls.” He has also criticized what he sees as increasingly aggressive behavior from NATO, claimed that European Union foreign policy is dictated from Washington and warned of the rise of Nazism in Eastern Europe. ...

Russia is particularly angry over the accession to NATO earlier this month of Montenegro, the small Adriatic country that accused Russian intelligence officers of masterminding an attempted coup in the country last year, apparently designed to derail its bid to join the alliance.

In the wake of allegations of Russian involvement in the murky coup plot, Patrushev rushed to Serbia to meet top government and security officials, in what many saw as a mission to smooth ruffled feathers. Media reports had suggested Belgrade had extradited several Russian nationals accused of masterminding the plot.
NATO expansion means increasing tensions with Russia, and has already encountered notable Russian pushback in Georgia and Ukraine. In strictly practical terms, whatever gains the NATO countries expect to obtain with further expansion, intensified Russian resistance is part of the cost.

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