Editorials

Russia responded to the NATO meeting in Bucharest with self-victimizing narratives

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (L) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) make a statement after their meeting at the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting, at Parliament Palace in Bucharest, Romania, 29 November 2022.
© EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT   |   Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (L) with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) make a statement after their meeting at the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting, at Parliament Palace in Bucharest, Romania, 29 November 2022.

Holzstock Festival

The meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers held in Bucharest over November 29-30 was not overlooked by Russian officials, nor propaganda media. Moscow interpreted the event in its own, different key, without however introducing new elements in terms of rhetoric. The allegations brought to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance are the same: NATO has reached beyond the purposes it was originally designed for, it is promoting an all-out war against Russia while using the territory of other states, it is supplying Kyiv with weapons, prolonging the war indefinitely.

Putin’s inner circle – aggressive reactions to the meeting in Bucharest

Moscow considers the North Atlantic Alliance to be directly responsible for the start of “the West’s war against Russia in Ukraine”, also defining it as a threat to global security,  Sergey Lavrov said on the sidelines of the “Dialogue for the Future” conference, held concurrently with the ministerial NATO summit in Bucharest. In the same vein, Lavrov did not forget to point out once again that the war was triggered by the collective West against Russia, whereas Ukraine and its citizens are nothing but disposable in this war.

It was also Lavrov who claimed that Moscow positions itself as a provider of security and stability in the region, all the more so as taking part in this debate are also countries with nuclear arsenals of their own. On the sidelines of the “Dialogue for the Future” conference, the Russian Foreign Minister also stated that “business-as-usual” relations with the West are no longer possible, because the West continues to subdue the rest of the world by controlling criteria and lines of action in the system of international relations. Russia is concerned about the current evolution of NATO, about the way standards and principles of international law are no longer observed, although it is certain that other members of the international community share its concern about “NATO expansionism”, which they refuse to tolerate. All things considered, Sergey Lavrov is trying to suggest several things: Russia is not the aggressor, but is fighting for its own integrity, although on the territory of a different state; Russia threatened to use nuclear weapons only to discourage NATO member states from using their military arsenal; Russia is on the good side of history, although the world doesn’t appreciate Moscow’s “good intentions”.

Also referring to the NATO ministerial meeting in Bucharest, another Russian official that went from making neutral statements to threats regarding the prospective results of NATO talks was Dmitry Medvedev, the former president of the Russian Federation, who is currently deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council. In Medvedev’s opinion, Russia is fighting a holy war. His latest statement provides further clarity to Sergey Lavrov’s “diplomatic subtlety” in threatening Ukraine’s NATO partners. Medvedev said that not only is the “special operation” a holy war, but he also warned NATO Member States against delivering Patriot anti-air missile defense systems to Ukraine, a piece of equipment Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, specifically asked for during the meeting in Bucharest. Medvedev also explained that, should NATO deliver military equipment and troops to Ukraine, it will become a legitimate target for Russia. The alternative, Medvedev argues, is for the Alliance to “repent” and dissolve itself, otherwise risking to become a “terrorist organization”.

Although few still believe Medvedev can still bring something to the table, his messages nevertheless become topics of public debate. Why? Because he embodies a growing degree of rhetorical aggression and also provides a platform for Russian elites close to the Kremlin to voice their frustration.

Zakharova: Ukraine promoted neo-Nazi ideas at NATO level

Perhaps the lengthiest reaction to the NATO meeting in Bucharest came from the Russian MFA spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, a long-time exponent of Russian propaganda, the same as her boss, Sergey Lavrov. Zakharova says NATO keeps coming up with excuses and missions to justify its existence. In fact, just a few days before the meeting in Bucharest, Zakharova reacted to a statement made by Jens Stoltenberg, accusing NATO of complicity to Kyiv’s actions. NATO’s Secretary General had actually said that Ukraine needs help on the battlefield in order to have more negotiation leverage. It is unclear when negotiations will resume, but Ukraine needs to grab enough victories on the ground which it can later turn to its advantage, in the event it ends up having to sue for peace and negotiate its territorial integrity. Therefore, NATO is not financing a regime, rather it is merely supporting a country illegally sieged by its neighbors. Maria Zakharova, however, disagrees. In her opinion, the West is “whitening” the regime in Kyiv, making it more humane, while at the same time dehumanizing and demonizing Russia.

At the end of the meeting in Bucharest, Zakharova’s mission was Swiss clockwork, to say the least: she was tasked with reinterpreting the final declaration adopted by NATO Foreign Ministers and to further mobilize the supporters of the “special operation” to defend Russia, a citadel under siege.

Most of Zakharova’s introductory remarks refer to the incident when a missile landed on the territory of Poland, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. Zakharova ironically asks why NATO Foreign Ministers do not demand to see the findings of the investigation, preferring instead to focus on the assistance they can provide to Ukraine. Obviously, to the detriment of Russia, who is defending Ukrainians from themselves and is defending itself against potential military actions in the future. The Russian official did not specify however how far into the future she was referring to.

Maria Zakharova claims that the principles NATO adheres to and promotes are tied to neo-Nazi ideology, to people still brandishing the swastika and who’ve put portraits of Nazi collaborators next to symbols of Ukrainian statehood. Ukraine allegedly brought Nazi ideology to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, because these are actually symbols promoted by Kyiv, the Russian MFA spokesperson said. Zakharova, however, left out a few fundamental details, particularly the fact that no Ukrainian far-right party grabbed enough votes in the latest round of elections allowing them to be represented in Parliament. Ukrainian citizens are used to cleaning house before an election. In Russia, on the other hand, authorities are used to “stripping” citizens of their rights and liberties. And it’s no accident the same authorities that organize the election usually outlive their patrons – citizens.

Since Bucharest hosted the event, Zakharova also referred to the previous summit hosted by the Romanian capital-city in 2008, when both Georgia and Ukraine were denied Euro-Atlantic integration. The MFA spokesperson again stressed that Georgia, not Russia, was the first to act, by suppressing all use of Dostoevsky’s language on its territory. And although the 2008 summit did not lead to the two countries being admitted into NATO, the Alliance falsely invokes an open-doors policy, which Zakharova describes as a “toxic precedent” NATO must yet overcome and still has a lot to learn from. More specifically, the Euro-Atlantic prospect of the two countries was the “fertilizer” that contributed to fueling the “Nazi regime” in Kyiv. Therefore, according to Moscow, the latest NATO declaration in Bucharest is designed to keep the war going, which is exactly what NATO allegedly did in Yugoslavia. Moreover, Zakharova insists on explaining that Russia’s military strategy is rooted in the same principles and elements that underlay the Alliance’s actions in 1999 in this part of the world: to destroy energy infrastructure objectives, which are of essential importance to the military. Nevertheless, Russia condemned NATO’s war in Kosovo and the way it was fought. Then, if these actions are reprehensible, why then is Moscow continuing to do the same, bombing critical Ukrainian infrastructure (December 5 saw the eighth wave of shelling)? It is a question that won’t get a logically sound answer any time soon, because none of the reasons Russia used to justify its attack on Ukraine is based on rational arguments.

Business-as-usual relations between Russia and the West are out of the question 

Sergey Lavrov was right about one thing though: you cannot have “business-as-usual” relations between Russia and the West in the current context. Whereas previously Moscow could still be engaged in certain discussions, right now Western states refrain from making any public commitments. Russia has isolated itself at international level. Her presence in the UN or any other international body is tolerated due to the very principles and system that Russia is challenging and wants to brutally rehash. The NATO declaration in Bucharest irritates the Kremlin, because it once again proves that even the Alliance’s most hesitant members will align themselves to certain decisions and act in unity, despite negotiations sometimes being very hard to handle by diplomats. Moscow has nothing at its disposal to offset talks at NATO or EU level, because its own foreign policy mechanisms do not observe the same principles.

EBOOK> Razboi si propaganda: O cronologie a conflictului ruso-ucrainean

EBOOK>Razboiul lui Putin cu lumea libera: Propaganda, dezinformare, fake news

Angela Grămadă

Angela Grămadă




Follow us on Google News

6 minutes read
Two Romanian history lessons for Putin’s local admirers
Two Romanian history lessons for Putin’s local admirers

Russian propaganda is now fixed on Romania and Moldova. The Kremlin is reiterating a number of older Soviet narratives, such as the one on Moldovenism, while at the same time spreading new lies, for instance claiming Romania has allegedly given Moscow its treasure.

Cosmin Popa
Cosmin Popa
16 Jul 2024
Four questions regarding the presidential election and the referendum in the Republic of Moldova
Four questions regarding the presidential election and the referendum in the Republic of Moldova

Există o serie de semne de întrebare legate de alegeri, de la numărul de alegători – important pentru validarea scrutinelor – până la actorii care se vor putea înscrie în cursă și desemnarea unui candidat unic al opoziției pro-ruse.

Corneliu Rusnac
Corneliu Rusnac
15 Jul 2024
UEFA is ignoring the political clampdown against Belarusian football players
UEFA is ignoring the political clampdown against Belarusian football players

Dozens of players have been harassed by authorities in Belarus since 2020. UEFA didn’t react, while allowing EURO 2024 games to be broadcast by state propaganda media.

Zmicier Mickievič
Zmicier Mickievič
12 Jul 2024
Moldova and Ukraine in the EU: political will vs. the reality on the ground
Moldova and Ukraine in the EU: political will vs. the reality on the ground

The launch of EU accession talks with Ukraine and Moldova shows there is political will in the EU for the two countries to join. The process itself, however, could be complicated and lengthy.

Iulian Comănescu
Iulian Comănescu
09 Jul 2024