By Li Rong
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg again splashed dirty water at China recently. However, the rhetoric of "threat theory" is most appropriate in NATO itself. Instead of spreading rumors and smearing, what Stoltenberg should do is reflecting on the role of NATO in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and who is the real threat to regional and global security.
NATO’s broken promise and repeated eastward expansion is the primary factor in the initiation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. NATO is a product of the Cold War and many people questioned the necessity of NATO's continued existence after the end of the Cold War. NATO also promised in the 1990s that it would not expand eastward by an inch. However, under the leadership of the US, NATO has expanded eastward five times since 1999. The number of its member states has increased from 16 to 30, and it has advanced more than 1,000 kilometers eastward all the way to the Russian border.
For years, many foreign policy experts have warned against NATO's eastward expansion, arguing that it would create geopolitical tensions and threaten regional security. Before the escalation of the conflict with Ukraine, Russia had repeatedly drawn the line to the US and NATO. Former US Congressman Tulsi Gabbard once said that the US can very easily prevent a war with Russia by guaranteeing that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO. However, the US government did not do that.
After the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, NATO continued to instigate military confrontation instead of reflecting on the harm of its eastward expansion. NATO has increased its defense deployment in Eastern Europe while raising tensions with weapons aid to Ukraine. It has made the war flame more protracted. Stoltenberg said during NATO foreign ministers' meeting that he believed the war would last "for many months or even years" and called on NATO to "maintain sustain sanctions, strengthen defense and deterrence" and provide Ukraine with more weapons.
NATO member states have followed the steps of the US and strengthened the establishment of an "anti-Russian front", which actually safeguards the hegemonic interests of the US. For many years, the US and Europe have positioned NATO differently. The US regards NATO as a weapon to maintain its hegemony and more as a "spear" for offensive purposes. Europe regards NATO as a barrier to ensure its own security and more as a "shield" for defensive purposes. The US and Europe quarreled with each other over the burden of defense a few years ago, and now many European countries have voluntarily expressed that they will increase military spending. This indicates that the US has successfully used the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to coerce Europe and turned NATO into a "spear" for safeguarding its hegemony. For the US, the eastward expansion of NATO has not only created a good opportunity for the US military industry to make money, but also further consolidated the US's constraints on Europe and served the geostrategic game played by the US.
NATO's eastward expansion has caused division and turmoil, which has harmed the interests of the people of the world. The war and sanctions caused by NATO's eastward expansion have led to soaring energy and food prices, and the security of the global industrial chain is also facing serious challenges. Europe bears the brunt as it faces capital outflows, energy shortages and soaring prices, as well as the influx of Ukrainians who have fled their home country. This has also made Europe pay for the conflict with real money. For the whole world, the negative impact of wars and sanctions is even more incalculable. High inflation caused by rising resource and food prices will make the global economy, which was already hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, even worse. International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned that countries still struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic "face the risk of recession".
A Ukrainian official once said that "NATO gives us arms and we sacrifice our lives" and that "it is a fair deal". However, this so-called "fair" deal has led to the loss of a large number of lives, the displacement of countless families, the disappearance of opportunities for world economic development, and more people will get into trouble. Everything considered, the world should keep its eyes open to see the endless harm of NATO's eastward expansion.
Editor’s Note: This article is originally published by Xinhua News Agency, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.