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NATO needs to find a rational brain: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-01-24 20:10
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. [Photo/Agencies]

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised "a swift, a severe and a united response" from the United States and its European allies if "a single additional Russian force goes into Ukraine in an aggressive way".

The US and its European allies cite Russia deploying tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine as an evidence for the security threat the former Soviet republic faces. But they never mention that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's continual eastward expansion over the past 20 some years, despite Moscow's constant strong opposition, have turned a total of 14 Central and Eastern European countries that should have served as a buffer zone with Russia into its vanguard. Compared with the difficulty of joining the European Union, it is much easier for these countries to join NATO, a shortcut to accessing the rich-country club and taking a ride on Europe's integrated development.

Ukraine is comparable to one of the two doors — the other is Belarus — leading to Russia's heartland. Moscow's military deployment on the border should be taken as its stress response to the NATO's insatiable appetite for testing the limits of its tolerance.

The top US diplomat's remarks came two days after a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Geneva aimed at easing tensions in Ukraine, which produced no breakthroughs. Once again, Washington chose to ignore the proposals Moscow has repeatedly made demanding to end the expansion of NATO to its doorsteps and the providing of security guarantees.

NATO has never restrained itself from extending its tentacles to Ukraine, Belarus, as well as the Transcaucasian republics and the Central Asian countries, which Moscow has long regarded as its "backyard". NATO's bombing of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, without the United Nations Security Council's authorization, and its brazen military interference in, if not invasion into, Afghanistan from 2003 to last year, are both acute reminders to other countries of the extent to which the regional security bloc has previously been ready to follow Washington's lead, even if that involves infringements of international law.

Yet as a legacy of the Cold War, NATO fulfilled its historical mission after the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and the Soviet Union in 1991. The reason why Washington keeps breathing new life into what the French leader called a "brain-dead" organization is that it needs such a security mechanism to maintain pressure on Russia and hold the reins on the EU's foreign policy, which has shown increasing signs of diverging from that of the US.

Indeed, while supporting the US in spirit, despite the strong commitments they have made to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in the face of Russia's "threat", none of the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany intends to send troops — even weapons in the case of Germany — according to their latest declaration over the weekend.

As history shows, a military conflict in Europe will serve no parties' interests except perhaps those of the US. The major European countries in the NATO should not let the US lead them by the nose or let themselves be propelled into an avoidable disaster by the newest members of the bloc eager to prove their worth and gain some retribution for historical wrongs.

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