A demonization of Russia is happening because NATO needs to justify its existence, and the selling of weapons, according to Jonathan Steele, an international affairs columnist for the Guardian during an interview with RT News.
The United States and its Western allies have been accusing Russia of escalating military tension in the world, which prompted NATO to conduct massive military exercises and develop new military plans in Europe.
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Russia plans to add 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently commented that President Vladimir Putin’s plan to increase Russia’s nuclear arsenal is dangerous. Many said Russia ignited fears of a potential World War 3.
The Russian state-funded media network interviewed Steele after Defense Secretary Aston “Ash” Carter announced that the United States would provide high-end military equipment, intelligence, logistics, and special operations for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). The military support was intended to prevent any security threat from Russia, and violence from extremist groups.
Prior to the announcement of U.S. Defense Secretary Carter, the Pentagon announced its plans to station battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and other heavy weapons—enough to equip as much as 5,000 soldiers in NATO member states in Eastern Europe.
During the interview, Steele explained that the U.S. troops will be on standby, but they will be flown to Europe within 48 to 78 hours if requested. He said, “So the fact that they are on standby doesn’t really change anything, it’s just part of saber rattling.”
Is Russia trying to re-create a Soviet-style sphere of influence?
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Carter emphasized that the United States does not want to make Russia an enemy, and it is not seeking a Cold War or a hot conflict. However, he said the U.S. will not allow Russia to re-create a Soviet-style sphere of influence in Europe.
Steele commented that the idea that Russia is trying such move was a “complete exaggeration if not nonsense.” He said, “To accuse Russia of planning to extend its sphere of influence is an astonishing accusation.”
He added that the United States is trying to create an enemy out of nothing. According to him, “The Ukraine crisis is about Ukraine, it is not about the Baltics, it’s certainly not about Central Europe of Western Europe.”
Steele believed that many people that are living close to areas in Europe where the military presence is growing did not want to be in the frontline of any new hot war that may develop in the region. He pointed out that people are greatly concerned including economic issued.
NATO is a big bureaucratic empire
Steele pointed out that “NATO is a big bureaucratic empire and needs a reason for its existence.” According to him, having a reason for NATO’s existence is a good thing for the U.S. arms manufacturers to cascade or sell weapons to Western European countries. He said there were a lot of heavy interests involved in demonizing Russia.
According to Steele, the United States is planning to provide more military support in Europe to lead in the effort to convincing all NATO member countries to allocate 2% of GDP to defense. He noted that many of the NATO member countries including Britain were behind the target.
Steele said the United States wants to give a lead and say, “We are showing the way, we are supplying more arms, men, equipment, logistics and you must follow suits.”
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Carter emphasized that the United States is providing military support for NATO because it is “deeply committed to the collective defense of Europe.” He urged Germany and other European countries to fulfill the promises they made during the NATO summit in Wales last year and to increase their investments in defense.
Steele said explained that currently, many of the NATO member countries cannot afford to invest 2% of the GDP to defense. Many of the countries reduced their budgets amid the huge austerity programs in Europe. He said, “defense is unpopular” in the region.
NATO to evaluate nuclear threats from Russia
Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported that NATO defense ministers would evaluate the nuclear threats from Russia.
“The nuclear messaging of Russia is destabilizing, it’s unjustified, and it’s dangerous,” reiterated NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg on Monday.
“What we learned during the Cold War is that everything related to nuclear weapons has to be dealt with in a very cautious way,” he added.
In a previous interview, Putin emphasized that people should not worry about Russia because it has better things to do than starting a World War 3. He pointed out that only a sick person can imagine a major conflict between Russia and NATO.