Sunday

22nd Oct 2017

Opinion

Denouncing myths on Nato and Ukraine

  • Linkevicius: 'Values underpin the success of our societies' (Photo: eu2013.lt)

Lately, there has been a great deal of analytical effort in Western media denouncing Russian propaganda on Ukraine.

Very substantial, timely and informative stories deny the Russian narrative of "the Western-sponsored violent overthrow of a democratic Ukrainian leader by bandits-fascists, threatening the Russian speaking minority in Ukraine" and the "peaceful Russian support to democratic forces in Ukraine, with Crimea's return to mother Russia".

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Russian narrative does not stick.

However, there are myths that we in Europe still exploit ourselves, advocating our opponent's case more strongly than they do themselves.

First, that the West provoked Russia by pushing Ukraine to the West – that Ukraine pursued this path means it is equally at fault.

This is akin to criticising a gazelle, or any other animal for that matter, for having to live near a lion. In fact, Russian behavior is simply illustrated by a popular line from the the fables of Ivan Krylov: "Ты виноват уж тем, что хочется мне кушать" meaning "your fault is that I’m hungry" or "the weak against the strong is always in the wrong".

Indeed, it is very provocative to seek independence, to choose one's own way without the indulgence of a big neighbour.

The only fact that somehow doesn’t fit this myth is that many EU and Nato members already have strong trade, cultural and political ties with Russia. So maybe it is still possible to work this out?

Of course, but only if one doesn’t have to perceive others as adversaries, if one doesn’t apply a zero-sum mentality. The West even offered Russia a "reset", which failed because it wasn't sufficient, as it were, to simply push a button. The software needs changing too.

And here comes the second myth: by pursuing its own projects, the West (the EU and Nato) left Russia aside, thus provoking its hostility, when in fact Russia never ceased to perceive the West as an adversary.

Such a mindset left (and will always leave) us carrying the blame for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Three years ago, during the visit of the North Atlantic Council to Sochi, I had a chance to ask the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev the following question: "We confirmed Russia as a future strategic partner in our most recent Security Strategy, while your military doctrine defines Nato's enlargement as the biggest danger. When are you going to change this?"

The answer did not come, neither did an explanation, as to why the same doctrine defines the defence of Russian speakers outside Russia as a military task.

After the Russian invasion in Georgia in 2008 the answer to this question became more than clear.

The scenario is simple: people in a foreign country are given Russian passports (in Abkhazia and South Ossetia), then "suddenly" a conflict breaks out, preferably an armed one, followed by the invasion of the Russian army seeking to "stabilise" the situation.

We did not learn then from this precedent. Everything calmed down, making it a perfect case for repetition, and this did not take too long to happen.

Except this time no effort was made to give the impression of instability in Crimea, far from it. There was simply a fully-armed army without insignia – the so called "self-defence" force of Crimea – that started to bring "order".

Once again we are hoping that somehow everything will get back to "normal". Then it will be Transniestria's turn, followed by . . .

When a permanent member of the UN Security Council embarks on redrawing the European map, simply by bluffing and lying, as well as by using its right to veto to block any resolutions or efforts to stop the aggression, Russia’s idea that the Cold war is over and that Nato should dissolve does not become more convincing.

And here comes the third and last myth: OK, we strengthened the EU and Nato, but there is no need to further provoke Russia with more enlargement.

Let us remind ourselves that Russia has self-consciously chosen not to pursue the path of achieving common security, while all Nato enlargements have strengthened security in Europe and beyond.

This year we celebrate the 15, 10 and five year anniversaries of Nato enlargement in which 12 new members were welcomed. Since then our countries have made important contributions to Nato missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. We have committed our troops to Nato standing reaction forces, trained together and established centers of excellence.

We jointly enlarged the secure skies over Europe with an air-policing mission over the Baltic countries and Slovenia. We send ships and experts to repel illicit trafficking in the Mediterranean and pirates off the coast of Africa. By the way, we invited Russia to join these efforts.

We are united by the understanding that values underpin the success of our societies. That peace and democracy need not only our respect, but vigilant protection. All co-operation is oriented in support of these values, rather than against someone.

That is why we should pursue the Nato Open Door policy at the Nato summit in Cardiff this September, with four aspirant countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro – awaiting strong signals.

To express our support, Lithuania will host a meeting of those countries' ministers and their regional partners in Vilnius on 3 to 4 April.

Let us not fall in the trap of self-fulfilling myths but instead focus on convincing, by our own example, that unlike a conspiracy-led world view, democratic value-based alliances contribute to the greater good.

The writer is the foreign minister of Lithuania

Nato to keep expanding, suspends Russia ties

Nato states have said the alliance will keep on expanding despite Russia’s protests, while freezing most co-operation with Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Ukraine language law does not harm minorities

Some European politicians keep spreading fictitious arguments on Ukraine's language law as being an impediment to minority rights, Ukraine's education minister says.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  2. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  4. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  5. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  6. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  7. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  8. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  12. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement