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NATO Towards Russia: Playing With Matches on Potential Tinderbox

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In the wake of the recent escalation of tensions between Russia and Turkey and, de facto, between Moscow and NATO, experts consider if the rhetoric of a hot war between Russia and the West is not “before time?” Political analyst Ian Kearns believes the situation actually reminds “playing with matches in a woodshed.”

 In the current situation, the “Turkish shoot down of the Russian warplane could be described as a match falling on a potential tinderbox,” he wrote in an article for Newsweek magazine.
Bear vs eagle

“Thankfully, the Russian response has so far been confined to the diplomatic and economic domains, and Turkey says it is in favor of de-escalation. There is, however, no room for complacency. The situation is ripe with potential for escalation, all the more so because what happened over Turkey is but one example, albeit a very dramatic one, of a much wider problem in Russia’s current military relationship with the West,” the article reads.However the author admits that there still remains “a fundamental political disagreement between Russia and the West.”

“On the Russian side, a growing number of national security officials appear to believe Western policy is aimed at overthrowing President Vladimir Putin and weakening the Russian state,” he reasons.

“Many in the West, on the other hand, believe Russia is seeking to change the European order through use of force in the east of the continent and through the provision of funding to political parties hostile to the EU in the West.”

“The debate on whether this amounts to a new Cold War has had some ink,” he furthermore acknowledges. “Whether it is or it isn’t, it is certainly now a confrontation in which both sides perceive fundamental interests to be at stake.”

The author compares the current state of affairs as “playing with matches in a woodshed.”

He suggests as a solution:

“If leaders in both Russia and the West have any foresight at all, they will now move quickly to reconvene the NATO-Russia Council and use it to negotiate a memorandum of understanding on managing the ongoing close military encounters effectively.”

As if right on cue, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier on Wednesday that the Alliance’s permanent member states are looking into the prospects of restoring NATO-Russia ties.

Stoltenberg however noted that the date of a new Russia-NATO summit will be decided later.

“We decided to define how to better use Russia-NATO Council for political cooperation with Moscow,” he said during a press-conference in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Kearns warns that “If this isn’t changed, more dangerous incidents will follow, and the security of all of us will be left hanging at the mercy of events.”