NATO Plans Stronger Ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen


BRUSSELS (The Guardian)—NATO has drawn up plans to strengthen military co-operation with the former Soviet states on Russia’s southern flank after the Kremlin’s seizure of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

NATO foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the alliance’s response to the Ukraine crisis amid continued fears of Russia’s territorial ambitions and what the Americans term a “tremendous” buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine’s eastern border, The Guardian reports.

Before the meeting, a NATO committee drafted plans “for promoting stability in eastern Europe in the current context” by increasing military co-operation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova – all in Russia’s “near abroad” and considered by Moscow as falling within its sphere of influence.

A confidential seven-page paper leaked to the German news weekly Der Spiegel proposed joint exercises and training between NATO and the three countries, increasing the “interoperability” of their militaries with NATO, and their participation in NATO “smart defense” operations.

The paper also proposed opening a NATO liaison office in Moldova, military training for Armenia, and projects in Azerbaijan aimed at securing its Caspian Sea oil and gas fields.

NATO and EU member states such as Poland and the three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) are alarmed at Vladimir Putin’s expansionist policies. There are widespread suspicions that the Kremlin will seek to destabilize and coerce Moldova ahead of its scheduled signing of a trade and political pact with the EU in June.

The US has responded to the pleas from Eastern Europe by reinforcing NATO air patrols over the Baltic and dispatching aircraft to Poland. The foreign ministers are expected to discuss how to contribute to the precautionary moves, with Britain, Denmark and Germany offering to supply more air power.

“We should do everything we can to reassure our friends and colleagues in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and in Poland that we really believe in their NATO membership and the guarantees that we have given them,” the British prime minister, David Cameron, said.

Training for Ukrainian forces and freezing of military co-operation with Moscow were also to be discussed.

According to Germany, Putin told the chancellor, Angela Merkel, he was pulling back some of his forces from the Ukrainian border. But he is believed to have moved just 500, out of tens of thousands, The Guardian reports.

NATO’s supreme commander in Europe, the US general Philip Breedlove, warned at the weekend that the Russian buildup was “very, very sizeable and very, very ready”. He said the Kremlin could move to seize Transnistria, a Russian-speaking part of Moldova that has been locked in a “frozen conflict” and effectively controlled by Russia since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Britain’s defense secretary, Philip Hammond, said the UK was considering increasing its participation in NATO military exercises in Eastern Europe.

“Certainly one of the things we are looking at is a greater participation in exercises in the Baltic states, the Eastern European NATO member countries, as a way of reassuring them about our commitment to article five of the Washington treaty, the mutual guarantee,” Hammond told the BBC.

Article five is the “all for one, one for all” pledge that obliges NATO to come to the military rescue of any member state that is attacked.

While Barack Obama has declared that NATO must respond to the Russian force with “strength and conviction,” there is a sense among Nato diplomats that the Kremlin’s strategy has reinforced NATO’s raison d’être, boosting the arguments for its continued existence against regular calls for its dissolution as a cold war relic.

A NATO spokesman said the meeting would “focus on increasing support for Ukraine and on the consequences of Russia’s illegal military actions against Ukraine for Nato-Russia relations.”

While the meeting is to focus on boosting security in Eastern Europe, there have also been calls to establish NATO bases in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. NATO avoided such moves during the alliance’s expansion to Eastern Europe in the 1990s for fear of antagonizing Russia. The topic is still controversial and would be likely to run into resistance, especially in Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe.

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12 Comments

  1. GB said:

    NATO must recognize Wilsonian Armenia as part of RoA first, before having a strong tie with Armenia!

  2. ronnie said:

    NATO is brewing trouble again…
    Encircling Russia and Iran all the while calling them the expansionist..
    Also it tells Turkey to finance the terrorist against the Syrian government while pretending to condemn the Kessab events .
    and yes it is fully aware of what Turkey does: it tells it what to do.

    The soup NATO wants us to drink is just as bitter as the ones the Russian are force feeding us.
    be cautious of both and try to be as independent as possible.

  3. HAIK said:

    Does that mean we will have sleepovers with Azeri roommates? Please make sure it’s far from stores that carry axes…

  4. Norin Radd said:

    Amazingly, there is no mention of the 10 year illegal war waged against Iraq by the US directly against UN votes both in the general assembly and the security counsel. A war that resulted in the death of approximately 650,000 Iraqi civilians and ran sacked the US economy amidst the credit crunch, a war that we are still paying for today with our tax dollars.

    Crimeans at least got a vote, what did the US provide for the Iraqi’s? A puppet transitional government after slaughtering more than half a million people. And let’s not forget the catastrophic fiasco created directly through US manipulation and instigation in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and the rest of the “Arab Spring” shenanigans, were votes provided for the local populace in those nations before the US blitzkrieg “freed” those people and installed their terrorist puppets into play? Did no one send General Breedlove the memo?

    As for the Brits, the only thing that girl scout David Cameron cares about is resources in the form of crude oil being pumped from Azeribaijan without interruption by BP. Moldova and Armenia are being sprinkled into the discussion for posterity. Mr. Cameron should remember the roots of his nation’s democracy which at one point controlled 25% of the world’s civilized land mass in the form of imperialistic colonies that pillaged, raped, and robbed other nation’s wealth and stock piled it all under Britannia’s skirt.

    As far as NATO goes, is this the same NATO that invited an Armenian soldier to a joint training officer program and allowed an Azeri to decapitate him in his sleep then responded with another well timed “we are concerned” in response to world wide Armenian outrage? Or is this the NATO that allowed the said murderer freely roam in his native hut after exchanging him for greasy Azeri oil favors?

    Armenia needs NATO about as much as it needs a deadly virus, neither are good for our nation’s health. Plus Armenia’s leadership should focus more on CSTO obligations and look to the Custom’s Union and soon to arise Eurasian Union as more locally logical avenues of growth. These organizations while not as glitzy and glamorous as the EU and NATO, will be far more reliable in the long run, it’s time our Diasporan leadership wakes up to these realities from their Genocide Recognition fantasies.

    • Hratch said:

      Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and don’t wholeheartedly trust the other side either.

      You can say the same things about Russia’s past. Just like Britain, their empire also pillaged, raped, and robbed other nation’s wealth and stock piled it all under USSR’s skirt. And let’s not forget the catastrophic fiasco created directly through Russia’s manipulation and instigation in Afghanistan in the 70s and Hungary in the 60s. The Crimean vote with the presents of Russian troops can hardly qualify as an example of a stellar democratic process. The fact that it was conceived, decided and executed within 10 days with an approval margin of 93% says it all. It’s looks and smells like it came right out of an authoritarian despot’s ‘how to’ manual.

    • Edward Demian said:

      From an economic point of view, I see the vast growing market in the former Soviet Union far more lucrative than the Western marget which is glutted with goods and services. Historicaly, Armenian merchants have done very well in emerging markets. It is no cincidence that the Russian Armenian diaspora contains many millionaires. All that in twenty years. We Economically, we are better off with Russia. Politically, we are better off without entanglements. I think the Iranians are better friends with Armenia than any other. Look at what Iran has done for Armenia so far.

  5. Armenian said:

    It would be in Armenia’s best interest to maintain military ties to both NATO and Russia.

  6. Avetis said:

    Armenia does not need any dealings with an imperial criminal organization who’s main task during the past twenty years has been to blockade Armenia, undermine Russia, destroy Iran and destroy Syria…

  7. Ruzanna said:

    Noooo, to NATO
    Open your eyes my poor Armenia, open your eyes.
    I agree with Norin Radd. Very clever .

  8. GeorgeMardig said:

    NATO: NO thanks, until Armenian Genocide is recognized and returned Western Armenia.

  9. Avetis said:

    Armenia does not need any dealings with an imperial criminal organization who’s main task during the past twenty years has been to blockade Armenia, undermine Russia, destroy Iran and destroy Syria…

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