Follow events in Ukraine and Russia and you’d be hard-pressed to have missed Russia’s latest round of NATO hysterics. You know the type of thing – poor defenseless Russia is threatened and surrounded by naughty NATO. Now, most of us know, Putin’s using this renewed outburst as a political smokescreen to enable him to look butch back home and to see what, if any concessions he can draw from a previously appeasement inclined West. Put simply, Putin fears Ukraine’s growing democracy and prosperity, NOT NATO.
To counter Russia’s disinformation, NATO’s been firing back (not literally), and correcting the Kremlin’s NATO narrative. Check out the North Atlantic Treaty Organization website to read about their Debunking of Russia’s Top 5 NATO Myths. As seen below, one of the major ones, is Russia’s constant claim that NATO countries are encircling Russia. Spend about 1 minute looking at a world map, and that claim can be swiftly ditched. Clearly the Kremlin hopes people are challenged by geography.
As the NATO website writes – NATO is a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to protect our member states. Our exercises and military deployments are not directed against Russia – or any other country. This myth also ignores geography. Russia’s land border is just over 20,000 kilometres long. Of that, less than one-sixteenth (1,215 kilometres), is shared with NATO members. Russia has land borders with 14 countries. Only five of them are NATO members.
Outside NATO territory, the Alliance only has a military presence in Kosovo and Iraq. The KFOR peacekeeping mission is carried out with a United Nations mandate, endorsed by the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a member. NATO’s non-combat mission in Iraq is a key contribution to the fight against international terrorism and is carried out with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and at the request of the Iraqi government. In contrast, Russia has military bases and soldiers in three countries – Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – without the consent of their governments.