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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

28.06.2017

Speech by Russia’s Permanent Representative to NATO Alexander Grushko at the opening of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC) in Vienna, June 27, 2017

Mr Chairman,

Colleagues,

I am grateful to you for the opportunity to speak at such an important forum.

As you know, there are two eternal Russian questions: who is to blame and what is to be done. It is impossible to answer the question of what is to be done without understanding the causes of the current crisis, and Helmut Kohl’s departure simply obliges us to do this.

Looking back it is impossible not to see all the missed opportunities. The legacy of the Cold War – primarily mental and political – has not been overcome. Western countries have proved to be unprepared for equitable cooperation with Russia in areas of common interest and in the construction of a European security architecture without dividing lines. The OSCE has not been institutionalised. The corner stone of European security – arms control in Europe – has been destroyed for purely political reasons.

When we suggested signing the European security treaty several years ago, our initiative was perceived as an attempt to destroy NATO, and an encroachment on the convention that legal security guarantees can only be received by countries that join NATO. This was further evidence of the failure to overcome the NATO-centric mentality. It would be appropriate to ask why only NATO members should be entitled to enhanced security.

We have long felt growing resistance to the consolidation of Russia’s role and the dynamics of its intertwining with Europe. The European Union got scared by its own project of four common spaces, including external and internal security, and impeded the projects that played a key role in ensuring quality relations with us – talks on the basic agreement, movement towards visa-free travel, formation of a mechanism for joint decision-making in the area of security and anti-crisis response. The Eastern Partnership became an instrument for driving a wedge between Russia and its historical neighbours. NATO and the EU demonstrated a high-handed attitude to the EAEU and the CSTO, which emerged in post-Soviet space.

Throughout all these years, NATO has been conducting a systematic, creeping expansion eastwards, which has led to deeper dividing lines in Europe and fuelled the habitual “Cold War” instincts. Meanwhile, Russia was not “moving” anywhere. Militarily, it was “contracting:” in the early 1990s, it pulled out all former Soviet contingents from East European countries and massively reduced its military capacity along its western borders.

After failed interventions in breach of international law and its commitments within the OSCE framework, NATO, having found itself at a new fork in the road of history, chose to return to its roots, to the search for a big “enemy,” in order to prove its relevance in the new security conditions. And this fell on fertile soil. The Ukrainian crisis was used by the alliance to justify its transition to deterrence schemes dating from an era of confrontation. If there had been no coup in Ukraine, something else would have been worked out. The alliance’s ex-leaders were saying it frankly and openly. Consequently, the bet was made again on military force and on gaining military superiority.

Things have reached a point where some Western officials regard geographical proximity to Russia as an “existential threat” to NATO. The question of who created this “proximity” is, of course, being left aside. Western media, taking their cue from the RAND Corporation, are speculating in a businesslike manner how many hours – 60 or less – it would take Russian tanks to reach Tallinn.

 




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