US has managed to keep NATO moderate towards Russia - NATO source

  • 2022-11-23

WASHINGTON - The United States has "fortunately" managed to establish a moderate approach toward Russia within NATO despite calls for the opposite, EURACTIV reported, quoting a NATO source. 

Some NATO members raised their reservations about the "typical" exchanges between Admiral Rob Bauer, NATO’s chair of the Military Committee, and his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov over mutual security, a NATO source told EURACTIV on condition of anonymity.

At the beginning of the war, the US and Russia had set up a deconflicting crisis cell at the political-military level to avoid any dangerous military action by air or sea across the world.

The two military officials recently agreed to "be careful", especially with ships not navigating in close proximity of each other in the Black Sea to avoid "accidents", the NATO source said.

However, some eastern European members reacted, the NATO source said, asking why there were such exchanges with Russia, with others replying that Bauer is mandated to have this communication channel.

"Poland hasn’t raised this issue," the country’s NATO representative said, contacted by EURACTIV.

Meanwhile, the Baltic countries declined to comment or did not respond to EURACTIV’s request for comment.

The source added, though, that lately, Russia has been "extremely careful", especially in the Black Sea, to avoid accidents.

More generally, the NATO source insisted that there is a group of eastern Europeans, Scandinavians, the UK, and former Yugoslavian countries backing a zero-sum approach on Russia, while traditional NATO members, such as the US, France, Turkey, Italy, and Greece are said to be more moderate in this regard.

The NATO source emphasized that "fortunately", Washington has taken the lead within NATO, and therefore a "more moderate" approach has so far prevailed. On the other hand, the UK had come closer to the eastern European position, with the source estimating that London is seeking a role, especially after Brexit.

Regarding Germany, the source said the country has been "inexistent" within NATO in the last two years. "Germans pay, give and don't speak", the source said, expressing the hope that Berlin will soon play a more active role.

"Russians bet on the West's fatigue", the NATO source said, adding that beyond this, the alliance is united in supporting Ukraine.

"We all agree to provide – as we have already been doing – Ukraine with assistance as long as our national security is not impacted", the source explained.

The NATO source also estimated that Turkey will not likely waive its veto against Sweden and Finland before the national elections in June 2023.

"Hungary will bow to the strong US pressure", the source said.

Turkey and Hungary are the last two of NATO's 30 member states that have yet to ratify the admission protocols so Finland and Sweden can join the alliance.