19 February 2022 ~ 2 Comentarios

Trust… but verify

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

I write this article on Thursday, February 17, 2022. About 130,000 Russian troops are still on the borders of Ukraine. There are troops in Belarus and the bombs continue exploding in Donbass, in the eastern part of the country, on the Russian border, also accessible from the south, from Crimea. President Joe Biden does not trust at all in the withdrawal assurances that Vladimir Putin has given him. Biden is right. The former KGB lieutenant colonel is able to bite his mother to death and deny it after hiding the body. He has done it before with the opposition.

“Trust, but verify,” says a Russian proverb that Ronald Reagan used to reiterate. Day after day, US intelligence reports that the preparations for the invasion continue. It is very difficult to hide the movement of troops and equipment. Not even at night. The “hard” data comes from the observation of satellites and from Russian military paid by the CIA. The British say that there is a point of no return determined by the immense cost of preparation. I don’t believe it. War is much more expensive and unpredictable. It may cost Putin himself his head.

The Republic of North Macedonia (with two million inhabitants, and its capital, Skopje, with 600,000) was the last country to enter NATO (2020). NATO’s 30 member countries are bound by Article Five. It establishes that the attack on one of them is an attack on the rest. Logically, tiny countries like North Macedonia or Montenegro (both fragments of Yugoslavia) benefit from this association with the United States, France and Britain, three countries with nuclear weapons and large armies that know how to wage war, and to which are added Canada, Italy, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Poland and Spain, and the rest of the 30 member countries.

Montenegro, the penultimate country to join NATO (2017), served former President Trump to exhibit his ignorance of geography and the reasons that encouraged Truman to create NATO in 1949. It was not about raising 2% of GDP for the organization, a number that was given as a guide, not as a fixed commitment, but rather about trying to stop the imperial spasm that the USSR was showing at that time.

With the USSR buried on December 25, 1991, by Mikhail Gorbachev, it was reasonable that the countries controlled or intervened by the USSR were afraid that Russia would return to its old ways, as has happened with the enormous country once Vladimir Putin felt strong, especially after forcibly seizing Crimea and the Sevastopol base.

In 1982 Spain entered NATO to scare away the ghosts of military coups and civil war. Felipe González, who had seen the writing on the wall during the “Tejero coup” in 1981, asked for a yes vote in the 1986 referendum. In 1952, thirty years earlier, Greece and Turkey had entered to prevent a war between them. Already cured of Nazism, Germany asked to join the organization in 1955. Being a member of NATO not only served to confront the USSR. It was also useful for educating the military.

Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic rushed to protect themselves behind NATO in 1999. At that time, Boris Yeltsin ruled in Russia and the country was very weak. On the first day of the year 2000, and of this millennium, Vladimir Putin began to rule. The first thing he did in foreign policy was to deprive Cuba of a listening post and of the 200 million dollars that Moscow paid annually to Havana (Fidel Castro died without forgiving him that offense, which was caused by the terrible situation in Russia). But in 2004, before a hesitant Putin, the former Baltic satellites (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia), Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia entered NATO.

It is an old perspective. Russia wants to be surrounded by friendly countries that serve as a cushion or bodyguard in a confrontation with the United States. That makes no sense in the universe of subsonic aviation or missiles. That is ancient history superseded by technology.

Some of this was what sank the USSR. I remember the rallying cry in Moscow in the early 1990s, “We must save Russia from the weight of the Soviet Union.” Indeed, each “client” that Cuba brought (Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Angola or the Caribbean island itself) was an anchor tied around Russia’s neck. But Putin has not realized it.

2 Responses to “Trust… but verify”

  1. Orl 23 February 2022 at 12:29 am Permalink

    Varios comentaristas de Cubadebate no se tragan que Rusia sea la victima


    Creo que Cuba debería ser cauta en reconocer estos hechos aunque provengan de un país amigo. A veces no conviene halagar a los amigos cuando hacen el tonto.

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