Munich: Top NATO Commander Accuses Russia Of “Diplomatic Pressure”
Xinhua News Agency
February 7, 2015
The West discusses defense in “hybrid warfare” threats
MUNICH: Western countries discussed “hybrid warfare” threats in Munich on Friday, accusing Russia of using multiple conventional and unconventional tools of warfare in the Ukrainian crisis.
Experts, however, believe the West itself is exploiting new cyber war tactics to corner Russia.
In a panel discussion titled “Hybrid Warfare: Who Is Ready” at the ongoing 51st Munich Security Conference, officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Norway said the West should strengthen cooperation and increase investment in defence and security to address hybrid warfare challenges.
“We have to take it seriously,” said Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, adding that the West is facing increasing conventional and unconventional threats.
As defined by the West, hybrid warfare entails a combination of multiple conventional and unconventional tools of warfare, including regular military forces, irregular forces, support of local unrest, cyber attacks and economic warfare.
In Friday’s discussion, Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, accused Russia of using diplomatic pressure, information campaign, economic coercion and other elements of national power in its conflicts with Ukraine and the West.
But in the opinion of some experts, the West itself was doing what it claimed as new threats to Russia.
“The West is taking advantage of its financial structure, energy structure and media power to coerce Russia, hurting its economy, damaging its reputation and causing enormous losses,” said Gu Xuewu, director of Center for Global Studies in Bonn University in Germany, in an interview with Xinhua.
Russia has suffered from economic sanctions from the United States and the European Union because of its stance on the the Ukraine crisis. The sanctions, together with the recent drops in oil prices, have forced the Russian government to cut its 2015 growth forecast to minus 3 percent.
Slamming Russia for direct involvement in the Ukraine conflict, which Moscow has denied repeatedly, Washington is considering offering Ukraine lethal weapons to boost its fight against militants in the eastern part of the country.
“The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis,” said John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, in an article published in the Foreign Affairs magazine.
In the article titled “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault,” Mearsheimer said the West had threatened Russia’s core strategic interests via NATO enlargement, EU expansion and value promotion in Russia’s backyard, ignoring Moscow’s repeated warnings.
“U.S. and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border,” he said.