Staunton, September 27 – Vladimir Komoyedov, chairman of the Russian Duma’s defense committee, says that Moscow had made a mistake by disbanding the Warsaw Pact and should consider establishing “another military union because opposing NATO alone will be very difficult for [Russia] (ng.ru/armies/2015-09-24/2_games.html).
The retired admiral said Russians “already did this on June 22, 1941,” when “we opposed all Europe alone, completely alone. But then there was the Soviet Union. Now, there is Russia, and this will be much more complicated given the betrayal which we see at present from the side of Ukraine.”
In reporting Komoyedov’s remarks, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” observes that creating “a new military block in opposition to NATO is not necessary and could be harmful.” The BRICS countries would hardly agree, and Russia would have to search for allies among those the West classifies as “outlaw states.”
Were it to try to create an alliance of those, the Moscow paper continues, it would have to pay for it, something the Russian budget would find it difficult to do. Consequently, the outlet says, it makes more sense for Russia to rearm its own military and improve the defense capacity of the countries which are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
As it often does, the Regions.ru portal surveyed the opinions of Russian parliamentarians about this issue. Their views suggest something of the range of debate in Moscow concerning the formation of any new military bloc (regions.ru/news/2561010/).
· Frants Klintsevich, a United Russia deputy on the Duma defense committee, says that Moscow is already making progress in developing a security alliance by its work with the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and BRICS. At the same time, he suggested, NATO “on the whole” does not represent “a serious threat” to Russia; only the US wants to fight Moscow. Consequently, he says, Moscow should focus on the development and strengthening of its own armed forces rather than on the building of blocs.
· Vasily Likhachev, a communist deputy on the Duma’s CIS, Eurasian Integration and Compatriots Committee, says Russia has every right under international law to form a security bloc and that it should think more broadly about creating a Eurasian Security Council to that end. Such a grouping could ultimately include countries in Western Europe as well. At the same time, he argues, “it is very important that discussions about this bear a civilized character so that a new idea originating from Russia will not be viewed as a manifestation of any aggressive intentions.”
· Aleksandr Starovoitov, an LDPR deputy on the Duma’s transportation committee, says that the idea of developing a block to oppose NATO is a “correct” one but that the issue is how it might be organized and financed. The US pays for NATO: can Russia pay for an alternative? Moreover, Russia must be realistic about its allies: some like China and Kazakhstan who are economic partners will never be interested in a military alliance because of their involvement with NATO countries. In the current environment, Russia must focus on the development of its own military.
· Olga Kovitidi, a member of the Federation Council’s defense and security committee from Crimea, says that creating such a bloc is a correct step and “already being realized in the form of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
· Nikolay Fedoyak, a member of the Federation Council’s defense and security committee from Khanty-Mansiisk AO, says the Collective Security Treaty Organization is a good start but that Russia must be realistic about what it can do. “If we remain alone, then we would need a population the size of China’s … an army of several missions, a powerful productive base not dependent on anyone else, and strengthened borders.”
· Nikolay Churkin, a former senator from Moscow oblast, says that it is incorrect at present to talk about creating a military bloc to oppose NATO, because NATO isn’t the main threat. “The real danger for the entire world is terrorism,” and Russia needs to work with all those who oppose it rather than forming blocs with only one part of the broader world.
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