interview with the German magazine, Sergey
Karaganov, a veteran political scientist and
member of the influential Foreign Policy and
Defense Council of the Russia Foreign Ministry,
said in bold terms that the risk of a new
shooting war in Europe has been on the rise for
a decade and is now as high as it was at the
height of the Cold War.
abundance of propaganda coming from both sides
attests to the dangerous state of the crisis,
“The Russian media is more
reserved than Western media. Though you have to
understand that Russia is very sensitive about
defense. We have to be prepared for everything.
That is the source of this occasionally massive
amount of propaganda,”
he said. “But what is
the West doing? It is doing nothing but
vilifying Russia; it believes that we are
threatening to attack. The situation is
comparable to the crisis at the end of the 1970s
and beginning of the 1980s.”
expert was referring to a massive build-up of
intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe
that could have easily led to an unintended
nuclear war. The missiles had a very short
approach time that left almost no time for an
attacked side to react, making automatic
retaliation the only possible reaction to a
decapitating nuclear barrage. The situation was
defused by a ban on intermediate-range missiles
signed in 1987.
current buildup of NATO forces on Russia’s
border is not unlike the installation of
Pershing and SS-20 missiles three decades ago,
at least in terms of the misguided justification
for deploying them, Karaganov said.
“Fears in countries like Poland,
Lithuania and Latvia are to be allayed by NATO
stationing weapons there. But that doesn’t help
them; we interpret that as a provocation. In a
crisis, we will destroy exactly these weapons.
Russia will never again fight on its own
territory,” he said.
“The help offered by NATO is not
symbolic help for the Baltic states. It is a
provocation. If NATO initiates an encroachment –
against a nuclear power like ourselves – it will
be punished,” he
the problem is the breakdown in communications,
as evidenced by the work – or lack thereof – of
the NATO-Russia Council, which was created to
resolve differences between the alliance and
Russia, but is “no longer a legitimate
body,” according to Karaganov.
“NATO has become a qualitatively
different alliance. When we began the dialogue
with NATO, it was a defensive alliance of
democratic powers. But then, the NATO-Russia
Council served as cover for and the legalization
of NATO expansion. When we really needed it – in
2008 and 2014 – it wasn’t there,”
he said referring to Russia’s most recent major
security crises – Georgia’s attack on South
Ossetia and the violent coup in Ukraine.