News Release

NATO Playing with Fire


NATO air command tweets that German Luftwaffe “kicks off the largest multinational air force deployment in NATO history.” See New York Times piece.
Abelow is author of the book How the West Brought War to Ukraine: Understanding How U.S. and NATO Policies Led to Crisis, War, and the Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe.

   Abelow recently said: “To say that the U.S. and NATO provoked the war could mean two different things. Do I mean that they wanted a war, and that they knew their actions would start one? That is one possible meaning of ‘provoked.’ But ‘provoked’ can also mean that their actions caused the war unintentionally. In fact, one can provoke a war while trying to avoid war. Although it is possible that some in the U.S. foreign policy elite wanted this war, I believe that most did not. I think that most were honestly trying to stabilize the peace. In English we have an idiom, ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ I think this expression applies to the role of the United States and NATO in creating this war. …

“One telling example occurred in 2021, the year before Russia invaded Ukraine. In that year, NATO carried out a live-fire training exercise in Estonia, a NATO country on Russia’s northwestern border. NATO fired 24 missiles. The launch sites were just 70 miles from Russia, and the missiles had a range of 185 miles. The purpose of this exercise was to practice destroying air defense targets inside Russia. The missiles did not enter Russian airspace, and NATO was not planning to attack Russia. It was trying to figure out how to react if Russia invaded one of the Baltic nations — Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania. Destroying air defense targets was part of an overall deterrent or protective strategy. But this exercise could have been perceived by Russian leaders as preparation for an offensive attack. In fact, the same exercises could be used to train for that purpose.  “Now let’s picture the converse of this situation. Imagine that the United States and Canada underwent a rift in their relations, and that Russia and Canada developed close political and military ties. Now imagine that, using a training site in Canada, Russia launched missiles, 70 miles from the U.S. border, to practice destroying air defense sites inside the United States. How would U.S. politicians and the foreign policy elite, military planners, and ordinary citizens in the United States react? Would they have accepted Russian claims that their actions were only defensive? No.”