From Argumenty i fakty, April 3, 2024, p. 4. Complete text:

Editors’ Note. – April 4 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. [In this interview,] Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev tells AiF about the “bloody history” of the North Atlantic alliance, the role it has played in world politics and how its main goal has become the “containment” of Russia, as well as the relevance of plans for the special military operation [in Ukraine].

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Source of conflict.

Question.– Nikolai Platonovich [Patrushev], the heads of NATO member states are planning to celebrate the anniversary in July during the alliance’s summit in Washington. But many in the rest of the world will not be celebrating, because in their eyes, this organization has earned the reputation of the world’s main aggressor over these 75 years. Do you agree with that?

Answer.– Judge for yourself. The anniversary of NATO’s formation coincides almost exactly with the 25th anniversary of the large-scale bombing of Yugoslavia, when, under the guise of “protecting human rights and democracy,” the North Atlantic alliance’s aircraft mercilessly massacred unarmed people. The bombings killed more than 2,500 people and injured more than 12,000 civilians. The exact number of deaths during the operation has not yet been precisely determined. The use of depleted uranium munitions led to soil contamination and an exponential increase in cancer in the population, which continues to kill people a quarter-century after NATO’s aggression.

NATO has conducted more than 20 major military operations in its 75 years of existence. In addition, individual countries of the alliance have repeatedly participated in nonaligned military coalitions the US has formed to fulfill its global ambitions in various regions of the world – in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and dozens of other armed conflicts. It is therefore ridiculous to hear the bloc’s attempts to deny the facts at hand of the destruction of cities and countries and the killing of thousands of peaceful people, and even more so to gloss over them.

I will not delve into the bloody history of NATO, but it is necessary to know it in order to understand the essence of the alliance as a constant perennial source of danger, crises and conflicts.

Q. – According to the text of the North Atlantic Treaty, the alliance is not only a military alliance, but also a political one. What do you think its policy is?

A. – NATO’s entire policy is based on Washington’s instructions. It uses the alliance to maintain its armed presence in Europe and to show its indispensability in continental security through the support of its satellites. In addition, the US-controlled military bloc is designed to exert illicit pressure from the so-called “collective West” on the sovereign states of the world by using military, economic, informational and other resources.

The North Atlantic alliance is being used as Washington’s tool to conduct “hybrid warfare.” Its members obediently carry out the application of economic sanctions, the freezing of funds, intelligence activities, psychological operations and cyberattacks; they are involved in acts of undermining and disrupting the state governance system of countries that do not agree with the policy of the Anglo-Saxons. At the same time, the alliance does not shy away from using terrorist organizations in its own interests.

From the Barents Sea to the Black Sea.

Q. – It is known that 12 countries in Europe and North America originally joined NATO to counter the influence of their recent anti-Hitler coalition ally, the USSR –

A. – At one time, the US, Britain and their satellites were not shy about falsely claiming that the alliance was created to counter the “aggressive aspirations” of the Warsaw Pact Organization. At the same time, they omit that the Warsaw Pact was signed on May 14, 1955 – i.e., six years after the formation of NATO. It is worth recalling that it was thanks to the formation of the Warsaw Pact Organization that military parity and peace were established in Europe for many years.

From its formation until the end of the cold war, the North Atlantic alliance grew by only four members. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact Organization, NATO has gone through several waves of expansion, primarily by absorbing former European allies of the USSR. Today, NATO consists of 32 countries with a total armed force of about 4 million people. Five other nations participate in NATO’s extended partnership programs.

Q. – A brainchild of the cold war, the existence of the NATO bloc seemed to have lost its meaning after the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact Organization. Even the question of Russia joining NATO was seriously discussed. Who do you think benefited from us being adversaries again?

A. – In the 1990s, NATO deliberately tried to convince us that they were pragmatists interested in shared military and political cooperation with Russia, in preserving peace and stability in Europe. In reality, the West viewed the collapse of the Soviet Union as only one stage in its confrontation with Russia. Weakening our country as an economic and political competitor, then subsequently removing it from the political map of the world by dismembering it, have been the long-term strategic goals of Washington, London and the countries of the collective West under their control. That is why officials in Brussels have identified our state as the main source of threats to European security and explicitly enshrined this in NATO’s strategic concept.

Q. – The other day, the head of NATO’s military committee, [Lt. Adm.] Rob Bauer, said that the alliance is ready for an open war with Russia. Reconciliation doesn’t seem to be on the table there, does it?

A. – This statement is in line with the whole NATO policy. In March, NATO Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg presented his annual report on the organization’s activities in the past year. The entire document is centered on the main task of “containing” Russia and, remarkably, China, meaning that the North Atlantic alliance did not hesitate to go beyond its geographical mandate and has openly declared its global ambitions.

NATO is systematically strengthening its military capabilities along our borders from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea. The bloc’s documents and the speeches of its leaders have even started using the term “NATO’s Eastern flank,” which includes all the East European countries bordering Russia and allied Belarus, as well as Romania and, more recently, Sweden and Finland. The alliance leadership does not hide the fact that the largest military maneuvers near Russia’s borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Steadfast Defender 2024,” currently under way in Europe, are aimed at “containing” Russia. Last year alone, NATO and its member countries conducted 130 military exercises and drills at the coalition level and more than 1,000 at the national level. Not in a decade, mind you, but in one year, 2023.

Your tasks are relevant.

Q. – In Russia, many are convinced that Washington has been trying since the early years of the collapse of the Soviet Union to turn Ukraine into a military bridgehead to inflict a strategic defeat on our country. Do you share that opinion?

A. – NATO exercises have been held regularly in Ukraine since 1995. And in 2004, sacrificing the country’s sovereignty to please the alliance, the Supreme Rada passed a law granting NATO forces free access to Ukrainian territory.

The intensified militarization of Ukraine began after the West’s coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 and the genocide of the Russian-speaking population by the Ukro-Nazis. There is irrefutable evidence that Kiev, at the behest of the US and NATO, intended to resolve the issue of the “rogue” regions [of Ukraine] in an extremely harsh, forceful manner.

The North Atlantic alliance is a de facto party to the Ukraine conflict and is actively involved in organizing the shelling of Russian territories by neo-Nazis. Within this framework, collective decisions are made on new deliveries of weapons, increasing their technical and long-range capabilities, and NATO instructors on the territory of several countries are training mercenaries and saboteurs for participation in anti-Russian operations.

The US and NATO plan is to keep Ukraine, or at least part of it, as an anti-Russian territory entirely under their control, fully focused on serving the interests of the North Atlantic bloc.

In this regard, the tasks of demilitarizing Ukraine remain relevant.

Fueling Russophobia.

Q. – Commander of the Dutch Army [Lt. Gen.] Martin Wijnen said that up to 3,000 volunteers ready to take part in an armed conflict with Russia should be recruited. Do you think the Europeans are serious about going to war?

A. – The incitement of Russophobia, the intimidation of their own citizens with an imaginary “Russian threat,” has become the most important policy component of the European authorities, who are trying in this way to distract people’s attention from growing domestic political and economic problems.

In addition, Russophobia is being used by Washington and London to rope other NATO countries firmly into economic obligations. The US profits by increasing the capacity of the military-industrial complex, dictating to allies the terms of purchasing quite specific types of weapons and uniforms from its manufacturers.

Defense spending by NATO member countries has increased to 50% of the global total this year. The alliance’s budget has grown for the ninth consecutive year, totaling more than $1.1 trillion in 2023.

Estonian Prime Minister [Kaja Kallas] recently said she was increasing military spending and raising taxes in the country to do so. She was forced into this act of political suicide because alliance members are obliged to submit to “bloc discipline” by increasing military spending. This year, 18 countries of the alliance have now fulfilled Washington’s “instructions” by increasing NATO military spending to 2% of gross domestic product.

Q. – Do you think European leaders are willing to obediently follow the White House’s instructions, even if it hurts their countries?

A. – The European countries of the bloc have long since lost many elements of their sovereignty and are, in fact, only economic and political supports for the alliance. Under these conditions, all NATO’s military plans are obediently executed by the European authorities, for whom the ideals of independence and responsibility to the populations of their own countries and their futures have yielded to the desire to satisfy Washington’s global claims.

On the contrary, international security should be seen as a single and indivisible good to be enjoyed equally by all states without exception. This is the approach that Russia is implementing, and our country has a huge number of like-minded [states] that continues to grow.