sources, I have my eyes, my thoughts and the same information that the rest of the world has.
It’s not my fault if the world’s governments are too ignorant to remember history or know what is going on.
The Russian reaction to current events in the Ukraine seem to have been something of a surprise to
the West and its leadership.
In the US Obama is saying this and then saying that and his number two is making threats about trade.
In Europe we have Merkel saying Putin is “Out of Touch with Reality”.
In the UK our own Hague is promising "significant diplomatic and economic costs".
Governments everywhere are saying one thing to one reporter and then seen to be saying another to
someone else (thank you whoever took that picture of the UKs response on the open page).
Russia’s armed action seems to have surprised everyone, but why is this the case.
It seems to me that, when seen from the Russian point of view and in particular from the point of view
of one Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin a sixteen year veteran of the KGB, that for years
now the West has been deliberately involved in a hostile campaign to expand against Russia.
In the aftermath of the Second World War the Soviet Bear was crouched along the eastern border of
Europe with a great many tanks and guns. To counter this an Alliance of Western powers came into
being specifically to defend against the Russian Empire as was (Soviet Union).
This alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, existed to coordinate a military response
against any war against the then Soviet Union.
With the fall of the wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia found itself without its central and
eastern European empire and NATO found itself without a purpose.
So in order to keep itself in existence NATO repurposed itself into a defensive alliance against threats of
military action against Europe and this is where the mess started in 1990/91.
German Unification bought the united Germany into NATO. This was done with Russian agreement but
was accompanied by an agreement between NATO and Russia that there would be a military reduction
across Europe and that NATO would not station non German Troops, weapons or Nuclear warheads
in the east.
It has been argued since that this was a commitment by NATO to NOT expand eastwards, the US state
department have said that this was not the case and that this was not part of the agreement but
Russian President Gorbachev has said that he understood that such a commitment HAD been made and
that NATO would not expand beyond the borders of Germany.
Miscommunication and confusion. The KGB and Russian government would certainly have been aware
that Gorbachev believed he had been promised NATO would not expand eastwards so when NATO
began to do just that there would have been concern in the halls of the Kremlin.
Over the course of the next decade or so NATO added those traditional Western European nations of
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and
Poland to the military alliance.
This is what NATO looks like today, the Orange bit is the Ukraine. Thats a lot of green and it is expanding to surround Russia, hardly likely to reasure an old KGB colonel.
but this was quickly followed by ground forces. Although this was technically a UN action the military
forces were provided by NATO. Things quickly escalated with NATO shooting down Bosnian aircraft and
then the Bosnians shooting down a British Harrier. Bombing of ground targets followed.
This action resulted in tens of thousands of NATO troops and hundreds of armoured vehicles on the
ground in what was once Yugoslavia, well to the East of Germany and in clear violation of the Russian
understanding of the reunification of Germany agreement.
In 1999 the events in Kosovo became so bad that the UN again decided to take action. They called on
NATO for military forces. This started with a month’s long bombing campaign that aside from causing a
number of civilian casualties also managed to hit the Chinese embassy.
Ground forces arrived as part of the peace keeping forces and along the way NATO deployed troops in
Albania and then moved into Macedonia under the pretext of disarming Albanian militias in that
While this was a UN mandated mission it was carried out by NATO and there are numerous reports
from the time that NATO refused to allow the UN to control airstrikes and military action on the
grounds that the UN security council and specifically China and Russia would not allow military strikes
against targets in the former Yugoslavia and to allow them to do so now would set the precedent that
they could then exert authority over NATO military actions undertaken by the UN at a later date.
Or to look at this from the Russian point of view NATO used the UN as an excuse to start a war and then
refused to allow the UN any control over how that war was fought.
NATO aircraft and troops attacking a pro Russian nation far to the east of Germany in clear violation of
the Russian understanding of the reunification of Germany agreement.
In 2004 the Baltic Air Policing mission came into effect with the establishment of NATO quick reaction
alert fighters being stationed at airbases in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These fighters are part of the
post 9/11 response to airborne terrorist threats against cities and NATO provides modern fighter
aircraft drawn from its main nations to support those members of NATO that lackde modern front line
interceptors. However this puts western military aircraft and troops far to the east of Germany which IS
a direct violation of that 1990/91 agreement and in the case of these three Baltic nations puts them directly
on Russia’s border.
Also in 2004 as a result of the Istanbul Summit NATO began the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative which
put defence and military cooperation agreements in place with several gulf state nations. Again to Russian
eyes NATO was expanding and forming military alliances far beyond the Borders of Western Europe.
With specific regard to the Ukraine, in 1995 the Ukraine entered NATO’s partnership for peace program.
Shortly after this polls reported that as many as 40% of the population were in favour of joining NATO
though the Pro NATO people seem to have been concentrated in the West as I have heard of other polls
more slanted to the Russian speaking and eastern regions of the Ukraine reported than more than twice
as many people in those areas saw NATO as a threat than wanted to be part of NATO.
In 2008 both the Ukraine and Georgia were both told they would eventually become members of NATO.
Both of these nations have long borders with Russia, significant Russian speaking populations and both
are, to Russian eyes, a very long way east of Germany.
The Ukraine was being lined up for NATO membership though this was an on again off again situation
until 2010 when, after a vote in the Kiev parliament the Ukraine passed into Law a bill forbidding membership
of any military alliance but allowing for cooperation with military alliances such as NATO.
This year with the overthrow of the Yanukovich regime and the rise of the western opposition parties to
power NATO membership is back on the agenda.
So what does this mean from the Russian point of view, why has Putin responded in the way that he has.
Russian troops went into Georgia in 2008 and are still there now so there is a clear precedent of how Russia
Russia has made no secret of the fact that it is not happy with NATO’s continued expansion eastwards and
yet NATO has again and again moved closer to Russia itself.
In the eyes of Russia a military alliance that existed to fight against Russia has now expanded to the Russian
borders and is trying to take over countries that are not only a significant part of Russian history but also
contain large Russian populations and Russian assets.
The EU is seen as the economic arm of NATO in the same way that NATO is the military might of the EU in
many parts of the world such as Russia. Just as NATO has steadily moved itself closer and closer to its old
enemy so has the EU moved its economic control closer and closer.
Again and again and again NATO and the EU have poked the sleeping Bear, often in it past it has done
nothing but grumble so they have ignored it.
Because the Bear did not charge out and fight them NATO and the EU seem to have thought it was too
old and toothless to respond and so continued to poke it, at first with long sticks but recently with shorter
and shorter ones.
Now the EU and Nato have reached the Ukraine and the Crimea and they are poking the bear with very
short sticks indeed.
The Bear is growling and showing its claws and suddenly everyone is surprised and blaming the Bear for
In the eyes of Russia and Putin the west has advanced its anti Russian alliance to the very doorstep and is
now directly threatening Russia and what remains of the Russian empire.
To be honest here I think the Russian response is more restrained than could have been expected and
the continued efforts by the US, EU and NATO to stir the pot and keep poking the old Bear are likely to
trigger a far more aggressive response.
As anyone with the slightest experience of angry dogs or bears will tell you. When faced with one back
off till it calms down, only an utter fool would continue to poke it with sticks after they had made it
angry in the first place.
So what does that make our leaders?