The Nato military alliance met on Thursday to cement and extend its expansion into eastern Europe. The council of war, gathering in Brussels in Belgium, scented the opportunity to recast the shape of the world and stamp the West’s authority after the defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After the summit, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said, “We will continue to impose unprecedented costs on Russia. Leaders approved our four new Nato battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.
“There are now eight multinational Nato battlegroups, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.” Stoltenberg emphasised, “There are 100,000 US troops supporting Nato efforts backed by major air and naval power including an unprecedented five carrier strike groups from the High North to the Mediterranean.” This is a dangerous moment as the West seeks to break out into new areas of domination. In the run-up to the summit, US president Joe Biden met a group of businessmen at the White House and talked of how the US could lead a “new world order”.
He reassured them, “We’re all capitalists in this room”. And then he went on, “We are at an inflection point, I believe in the world. It occurs every three or four generations. As one of the top military people said to me in a secure meeting the other day, 60 million people died between 1900 and 1946. And since then, we’ve established a liberal world order. A lot of people dying—but nowhere near the chaos.”
Then came the punchline. “And now is a time when things are shifting. There’s going to be a new world order out there, and we’ve got to lead it.” That means an attempt to reassert US power not just against Russia, but China as well.
The summit statement declared that “Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe”—presumably unlike Nato’s war in Yugoslavia in 1999. It then went on to boast, “Since 2014, we have trained Ukraine’s armed forces, strengthening their military capabilities and capacities and enhancing their resilience.”
It praised the “massive sanctions imposed on Russia”. The summit thudded it was “concerned by recent public comments by Chinese officials and call on China to cease amplifying the Kremlin’s false narratives, in particular on the war and on Nato”.
Boris Johnson arrived at the summit just after an announcement that the British government is sending another 6,000 missiles to Ukraine. They include anti-tank and high explosive weapons, along with another £25 million for the Ukrainian military.
And plane spotters noticed a “doomsday plane” that was designed to be an airborne base for the US during nuclear war flying over Britain. The Boeing 747 E4-B aircraft can remain in the air for days, and even withstand the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear blast. The US has maintained a fleet of the £150 million planes since the Cold War. The GRIM99: Nightwatch was seen taking off to support Biden’s visit to Europe.
The summit’s decisions were partly a response to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, who on Wednesday hit out at Western nations for not doing enough. “Freedom must be armed,” Zelensky said. “The Ukrainian sky has not been made safe.” He added the summit would show “who is a friend, who is a partner, and who betrayed us for money”.
It’s clear Zelensky will keep pressing for the no-fly zone that would mean shooting down Russian planes and destroying Russian air defences. That would be a pathway towards nuclear war. On Wednesday Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia could use nuclear weapons in the event of an “existential threat”.
But even if there isn’t a no-fly zone there will be more and more arms and soldiers poured into eastern Europe. That makes a wider war much more likely. Stoltenberg looked forward to a new era of even more money for the technologies of death on land, sea and air. He acknowledged, “But security does not come for free. And doing more will cost more.” That’s more money from working class people for weapons and generals in the middle of a cost of living crisis.
The anti-war movement has to step up its response—against the Russian invasion but also firmly against Nato expansion and escalation.
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