Letter From the Editors

This week marked NATO’s 75th anniversary. But what should have been a solemn celebration of an enduring alliance was marred by internal schisms and bellicose language on the part of Russia, all centering around the war in Ukraine. At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on the eve of the anniversary, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg proposed creating a $100 billion fund to support Ukraine. Calling this a “request from Washington,” expert Andrei Koshkin told Izvestia that “this offer is really beneficial to Washington” because “Biden is unable to pass $60 billion in military support for Ukraine through Congress.” Indeed, several alliance foreign ministers expressed doubt about the idea of such a fund, with Slovak and Hungarian officials coming out strongly against providing Ukraine with money for weapons.

But the harshest rhetoric came from Russia. In a conversation with Izvestia, Russian Ambassador to Belgium Aleksandr Tokovinin said that Belgian society is growing weary of the economic side effects of sanctions and that “public sentiment, in fact, does not coincide with the policy of the Belgian government.” He also said that NATO is waging a “hybrid war” and “taking on tasks that show [its] aggressive nature.” Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev, who spoke to AiF about Russophobia in Europe, added to this tough language, saying that “the alliance does not shy away from using terrorist organizations in its own interests.” The strongest words came from Dmitry Suslov, who wrote in Kommersant that “only a revival of the fear of nuclear war***can prevent a scenario in which it is inevitable.”

Since Russia is framing the war in Ukraine as an East-West showdown, it’s instructive to consider what would actually be required to win such a confrontation. According to Gen. John Pershing, who commanded US troops during World War I, “Logistics wins wars.” And, considering the current sanctions regime against Russia, logistics is certainly playing a pivotal role here, with East and West vying for control over new transportation routes in the Middle East and Central Asia. As Yury Mavashev writes for Izvestia, the West stands to lose trillions of dollars if Turkey’s Development Corridor opens; this route would connect Turkey with an Iraqi port on the Persian Gulf. According to Mavashev, the US fomented unrest following Turkey’s municipal elections this week, in order to disrupt the creation of this corridor. The unrest broke out when Turkish election officials overturned the results in Van, where a pro-Kurdish politician won the mayorship, and quickly spread to neighboring regions. Mavashev argues that a destabilized Kurdish population will threaten Turkish-Iraqi relations and put the Development Corridor on hold, hence the US’s interest in the protests.

Another transport corridor in the news is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which runs through Kazakhstan. As Viktoria Panfilova reports in NG, the US is showing particular interest in this route because it provides easy access to Kazakhstan’s reserves of uranium, oil and lithium. But expert Daniyar Ashimbayev says the US is also aiming to “undermine Kazakh-Russian cooperation” and establish “political control” over the Kazakh presidential administration.

Another Central Asian country, Tajikistan, is at the heart of a different logistical debate, this one surrounding the logistics of migration. The country is now the subject of intense scrutiny after several of its citizens were arrested for committing last month’s Crocus City Hall attack. As Darya Podolskaya explains in Republic, officials are now clamoring for tighter migration rules, which they claim would prevent future attacks. But the economic reality is that, with its dire demographic situation, Russia is in no condition to limit migration.

And so, Russia is accusing Ukraine (and, by extension, the West) of masterminding the attack, with Tajikistan backing up its story. As Meduza explains, Russia and Tajikistan each have their “own incentive to lie and a great deal of experience making up fantastical explanations for dramatic events. Each side***knows perfectly well what to say and do for the other’s political expediency.”