MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- As the rhetoric about basic treaties signed at the end of the Cold War -- the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty-1 -- START 1, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty -- INF, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty -- CFE -- intensifies, it is becoming clear that collective security in Europe and the world needs new approaches and perhaps a complete overhaul.
The present conflict is based on the mistaken view of Russia adopted by the West in the early 1990s.
Russia as it emerged in late 1991 was in effect a political and ideological negation of the Soviet Union. Only certain political, economic and military circumstances forced it to act as a successor to the Soviet Union -- mostly at the West's request.
The Russian people themselves dumped the communist regime. They made their free choice -- unlike the German people, who had to repudiate the Nazi regime only as a result of their military defeat and foreign occupation.
However, the West began regarding Russia as an ideological and political heir to the Soviet Union and as the country that lost the Cold War, must surrender and be dictated new conditions.
It totally ignored Russia's internal and external political interests, and the fact that they could be out of tune with Western ones. It chose to speak to Russia in a lecturing tone, which was quite unwarranted.
NATO began expanding to the East without any real political or military reasons. The interests of Brussels bureaucrats, who are still at a loss to find arguments for their existence now that the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are gone, have prevailed over the political and military interests of Western countries.
Today it is practically impossible to hide the fact that NATO's expansion has only weakened the bloc, politically and especially militarily, and the process seems to have become self-perpetuating.
As a result, Russia-NATO relations soured considerably in the second half of the 1990s, and during NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia nearly hit rock bottom. Later on, the relations improved a little only to worsen again.
Another negative factor was the aggressive foreign policy adopted by America under President George W. Bush. The United States began acting like a bull in a china shop, not caring for Russia or even its Western allies. It started breaking treaties for tactical gains, giving no thought to the long-term strategic results of such behavior. Such was the case with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and such could be the case with START-1.
Russia is puzzled by NATO's enlargement and the deployment of a missile defense shield in Europe.
The explanations emerging from Brussels and Washington are either muddled or demagogic, purposely ignoring Russia's concerns and interests. They also ignore the postulate that "the military react to opportunities, not intentions," making Western peace assurances look weak.
Cold War veterans in Moscow have been quick to seize upon such a situation. So have the propaganda-mongers of the current Kremlin regime.
(Alexander Khramchikhin is head of analysis at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)
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