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The US creates and spreads a false image about an “aggressive” Russia constituting a security “threat”

Summary of Disinformation

Throughout the 2000s the US, with the assistance of the Baltic states, Poland, the UK and Sweden, has created and spread a false image about an “aggressive” Russia that constitutes a security “threat”.  The US created this misleading view of Russia in order to prevent Europe from establishing close economic and industrial cooperation with Russia. The US fears that a strong Europe-Russia economic partnership could undermine America’s global economic superiority.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narrative about the “Russian threat” as a false idea created by US and other Western actors in order to prevent close Europe-Russia cooperation and about the US imposing anti-Russian views and policies on European states.

No evidence provided. Conspiracy theory.

The claim that the US “created” the image of Russia as a threat in order to prevent European-Russia cooperation does not reflect reality.  After the end of the Cold War until the 2014 Ukraine crisis, most US and Western policymakers no longer viewed Russia as an adversary, instead, taking the opinion that it could potentially become, or already was, a credible and responsible partner for Western states.

The widespread assumption among US and European decision-makers was that economic, political and security cooperation with Russia, and its integration into the world economy, would encourage Russia’s democratic transition and modernisation, as well as its embrace of a foreign policy based on respect for international legal norms and support for the post-Cold War security architecture

Even after the Russo-Georgian war in the summer of 2008, the US, the EU and most European states did not question the above-mentioned assumptions about Russia and continued to view Russia not as a security problem but as a key partner.  Thus, the Obama administration announced its “reset” policy in 2009 that aimed to restore a wide-ranging US-Russian partnership. The EU-Russia summits of 2009 and 2010 launched a “partnership for modernisation”.  Germany continued its strategic partnership policy towards Russia, and France and Italy pursued similar strategies based on increasing cooperation with Moscow.

Until the Ukraine crisis, NATO also consistently worked to build a cooperative relationship with Russia.  For more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, NATO's strategy was based on the perception that Russia no longer posed a security threat and should increasingly be viewed as a partner for the Alliance.

For example, the Alliance promoted dialogue and cooperation by creating the Partnership for Peace (PfP) and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), open to the whole of Europe, including Russia.

In 1997, NATO and Russia signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, creating the NATO Russia Permanent Joint Council. In 2002, this was upgraded, creating the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). See here, here and here.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine in early 2014 was widely viewed both in North America and in Europe as violating the basic rules of the post-Cold War European order, especially the rule that borders are inviolable and states should not use force to alter them or take over territory from other states. As a result of Russia’s aggressive actions in the Ukraine, many Western states - including key EU members such as Germany and France -  critically reassessed their “strategic partnership” policies towards Russia and began to view Russia as a serious challenge to the European security order.

The annexation of Crimea also led NATO to change its perception of Russia and to reassess its view of Russia as a partner. Moreover, NATO adopted a more alarming view of Russia also because it observed a significant increase in provocative behaviour by Russian military forces, such as a sharp increase in Russian bombers conducting flights near airspace of NATO member states used by civilian airliners, snap military force alerts and nuclear exercises.

See here for a similar case.

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Reported in: Issue 154
Date: 10.06.2019
Language: Italian
Country: Poland, UK, Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, US, Sweden
Keywords: EU/NATO enlargement, Encircling Russia, NATO
Outlet where the disinformation appeared: Sputnik Italia
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