NATO has often cited the non-existent threat from Russia as a pretext to justify a massive military buildup in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Dr. Jan Oberg, the director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, said that the bloc’s approach to security will in fact create more tensions that could lead to an armed conflict.

“There cannot be security in Western Europe if it is against Russia. It can only be with Russia. And the other way around, there cannot be security for Russia if it is against Europe.  We have to think about defense, security and peace in a new way or it will be at some point the end of the world. By that I mean tensions, leading to a conventional war. If there is a conventional war, it’s highly likely that nuclear weapons would be used. This is what must never happen. We are playing with fire and we should stop it,” he explained.

Dr. Oberg, an international peace and conflict expert, dismissed NATO claims that Russia ostensibly presents a military threat to the West, pointing to the gap in defense spending. Moscow’s defense spending amounts to a mere  allocated 8 percent of the NATO countries’’s total military expenditures on defense.

The analyst has also been critical of NATO’s strategy, which is ostensibly aimed at enhancing security.

“It’s a common mistake in the media, in politics and elsewhere that there is some kind of an assessment of a threat and then you adapt your military to meet that threat. About 50 years ago those of us who deal with these problems professionally gave up that theory,” he said.

In Oberg’s view, those who call for increased defense spending and a greater military presence are not interested in enhancing security since it can only be achieved through trust building measures, rather than militarization.

The analyst suggested that Russia and NATO should “sit down and talk about why we cannot trust each other.” Such talks would help both sides to save money spent on militarization, which is “never an answer to the lack of trust,” he added. “The reason to work with these things and create peace and build confidence is to find out why we do not trust each other in the first place. When we know that, we won’t need all these weapons.”

Oberg further described NATO’s buildup in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region as “beyond anything rational.” He said that adversaries had reasons to feel threated during the Cold War, adding that these grounds don’t hold water anymore. “Today Russia is alone with 28 members of NATO and we are shouting and screaming in the West about the huge threat of Russia,” he noted.The analyst also suggested that NATO’s current approach to defense could ultimately lead to the bloc’s demise.

“The increasing weakness of the West is that we are wasting all this money on a totally wrong paradigm on what it means to create security and peace. And it’s self-defeating,” he said. “In my view, 10 or 15 years from now NATO will not exist if they continue this way,” he said.

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