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A Tale Of Two Factions: Russia’s Leave From Nato

Human behaviour is ambiguous at best and with the weight of the world on one’s shoulders, quite literally, decisions that an idle philosopher might call ‘moral’ are rarely made. War, the pinnacle of amorality, has been one of the defining monuments of history, a corrupt act that ironically brings communities together, clustering them into territories, constantly competing for power, resources and prestige.

This struggle, ‘the survival of the fittest’ so as to say, to maintain a particular style of life that most benefits a sector, is what created NATO- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 1949, in an attempt to curb political tensions and offer restoration aid for the damages during the Second World War; America, Canada and several European countries formed this alliance. However, this seems to have unintentionally agitated said political tensions, the remnants of which have spilled over in Russia’s recent and sudden decision to withdraw from NATO in 2021.

Current Affairs 101: Russia to close NATO office in Moscow

Let’s begin with facts. On 18th October, 2021, Russia suspended its mission to NATO and ordered the closure of their Information Office in Moscow, essentially commanding their own leave from this seemingly age-old alliance. Preceding this, NATO withdrew the accreditation of eight members of the Russian mission on the claims that they were undeclared intelligence officers. These two statements in themselves seemed to boil down this controversy to an exaggerated act of pettiness. However, NATO and Russia have always had an unconventional relationship- one forged for the purpose of peace but built on the precipice of hatred. To begin with, NATO was created partly to restrain incursions from The Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. Many also argue that the primary agenda behind such an alliance was to strengthen the capitalist position in America’s conflict against communism, predominantly present in Russia. That being said, complex issues such as global politics can rarely be categorized as ‘black or white’.

Initially, Europe struggled to rebuild its economy, security and infrastructure in the wake of the Second World War. A massive influx of resources was offered by America to sustain political and financial stability through the Marshall plan in 1948, for the countries that did choose to join. Russia refused to become a part of the proposal, going so far as to deny the promised financial aid to the satellite states under its rule as well. Seeing as Russia did eventually join NATO, one must wonder how many fatal insecurities could have been nipped in the bud had Russia accepted the Marshall Plan. However, the competition of the Cold War resulted in Russia alienating the west in favour of strengthening its military, scientific and political bases.

International Relations 101: Russia v/s NATO

Eventually, Russia joined NATO in 1991 and has since then (up till now), been an influential member. The NRC (NATO-Russia Council) was established to build trust between the two members and found itself sufficiently successful till 2014. The Russo-Ukraine War was one of the first rebellious acts that threatened NATO’s ideal democratic structure. Russia’s response to the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 sparked an increase in Russian military activity all the way into the Baltic sea, close to NATO’s borders. At the time, an invasion seemed inevitable and NATO was forced to withdraw practical cooperation. This aggressive act was also against the international norms set by NATO, however political and military communication channels were left open.

Nerve attacks on Sergei Skripal and Alexei Navalny in 2018 and 2020 respectively, were strongly condemned by NATO and added to their current claim of Russia’s continued secret service missions as both attacks were denied by the official government. Russia’s SSC-8 long range missile system also threatens the mutually assured safety that NATO strives to preserve. As is widely established, the symbiotic relationship between Russia and NATO degraded into a theoretical partnership for the illusion of mutual welfare on both sides. To quote Sergey Utkin, head of strategic assessment at Moscow’s Institute of World Economy, “To pretend that we still cooperate, while we don't, was not very helpful.

Military Tactics 101: Cold War take two

NATO, during the Cold War, acted as the bridge that connected The States to powerful European states such as Britain and France. For Russia, this act could be simplified as a direct threat as it ensured the presence of the American military on European soil. While NATO temporarily avoided a direct armed confrontation, Russia’s departure now brings back fears of an all out war. Russia’s understanding of the recent conflict rests on NATO’s attempt to undermine the Russian authority by reducing the number of Russian dignitaries to almost half of its original strength. The allies, for their part, have yet to offer substantial proof of the removal of eight Russian delegates being members of an intelligence agency. This disagreement is open to further dialogue from NATO’s side but Russia is yet to respond. Despite the closure of NATO’s office in Moscow, embassies of individual European countries in Russia remain active. In the 21st century, not accounting for the full fledged ongoing pandemic, the probability of sustaining and channeling resources and economy to a destructive war would not be viable.

Both sides continue to accuse the other for the reason behind this sudden collapse of agreement. Keir Giles, a Russian expert in a Britain based think tank says, “We’ve seen more and more things that in normal times would be considered acts of war.” This holds hope that despite the escalation of hostile events, a war, as declared under UN’s terms, will not stem. This does bring up the question of the authenticity of such an alliance, one that is currently ignored in favour of global peace.

For a simple citizen, binaries such as capitalism and communism tend to hold either a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ title. Positive and widespread representation of the west as the ‘free land’ tilts the popular opinion towards that of the capitalist agenda. However, as the saying goes, ‘it takes two to tango’ and currently both NATO and Russia seem to be locked in a never ending game of sabotage, crime and espionage. Analyzing the recent events involving this dispute and the consequent events surrounding it, it is easy to question if the cold war ever really ended.

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