|Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO|
A new poll reveals that NATO’s controversial eastward expansion hasn’t really gone according to plan.
Former Warsaw Pact member Bulgaria and former Yugoslav Republic Slovenia,
which both joined NATO in 2004, say that they would feel safer being
defended by the Russian military in the event of war than they would by
Perhaps more worryingly for NATO top brass are Turkey and Greece.
Both joined the alliance in 1952 and have a history of being at odds
with each other (to put it mildly) say that they too would feel safer
being defended by Russia in the event of war.
If recent botched election forecasts from Brexit to Trump
have taught us anything, it is that pollsters often manipulate questions
to get the answers they want. Therefore, the results of this poll
should be taken with the same pinch of salt as any other.
However, the poll does raise an important question. How united is NATO?
As President Trump continues to highlight, many NATO members
are happy to receive the so-called benefits of NATO without paying
their share of membership fees.
Currently, members of NATO are required to spend at least 2%
of GDP on defense. Apart from the United States, only Greece, Britain,
Estonia and Poland have met this target. The other 23 member states fall
The other reality the poll buttresses is that increasingly,
Greece and Bulgaria are finding themselves looking more to Moscow than
to Brussels or Washington. Greece has been economically decimated by
Brussels and the typical response from America to Athens is ‘do as
Likewise, Bulgaria just elected Rumen Radev as president, a
man who has made clear that he doesn’t follow the narrative that Russia
is the enemy of all EU states and of Europe more generally.
Indeed, if not for Russia’s victory in the Russo-Turkish War
of 1877-78, Bulgaria would have likely waited decades longer to achieve
independence from Ottoman Turkey.
Furthermore, Greece like Bulgaria is an Orthodox Christian country with historic fraternal relations with Russia.
Turkey’s position on this list, however, reveals that
historical fraternity with Russia is not the only requirement for NATO
skepticism. The same could be said of Slovenia, but the case of Turkey
as a large state and long-time NATO member/historic Russian adversary,
makes it a much more interesting study.
Turkey is one of Russia’s historical military foes, and under President Erdogan, things have been rocky, to say the least.
However, Turkey is becoming increasingly anti-America,
anti-Europe and while not becoming a Russophillic power, Turkey is fast
realizing that Russia is one of the only great powers that is willing to
still deal pragmatically and respectfully with Ankara.
Obama’s failure to strongly condemn last summer’s failed
Turkish coup attempt, America’s sheltering of wanted Turkish criminal
Fethullah Gülen and Trump’s apparently less than impactful phone call
with Erdogan, have been just some factors pushing Turkey towards Russia.
Furthermore, Turkey’s participation in the Astana Peace
Conference has shown that it is the Russian-driven peace process for
Syria which Turkey recognizes as an internationally prestigious forum.
The big stumbling block for better Turkish-Russian relations
is not, however, Turkey’s continued membership (however, uneasy) of
NATO. It is Turkey’s territorial and political ambitions for Syria, a
Russian ally whose territorial integrity and political sovereignty
Russia has vowed to protect.
Even before one gets to Turkey’s continued illegal
occupation of Cyprus and the sporadic threats against Greek islands from
Turkish officials, including Erdogan, it is Syria where Russia is
working hard to avoid a conflict between Syrian Arab Army forces and
Turkish regulars as well as their go-to jihadists, the so-called ‘Free
The fact that Turks see Russia as a better guarantor of
safety than NATO demonstrates both a broad attitude of Turks being fed
up with the west, but also a desire for Turkey not to waste time
provoking Russia and her allies in Syria over Erdogan’s wounded pride.
The sooner Erdogan himself gets this message the better it will be for Turkey, Russia, Syria and the wider region.
NATO’s mission is increasingly out of date, ambiguous and at
times downright non-existent. The alliance was formed as a united front
to make war on the Soviet Union. So long as certain NATO members want
to continue to fight a Cold War that has long frosted over, NATO will
continue to be its own worst enemy. (emphasis added)
Source: The Duran