The proto-thugs in Moscow actually have the nerve to be upset that joining NATO has become fairly popular amongst the formerly Soviet satellite nations and even parts of the old Soviet Union. Instead of wondering why the tender loving attention of Mother Russia scares the crap out of these people eager to join NATO, the Russians are busy whining and blustering even as their military continues to rot and their economy enjoys a temporary oil-fueled bubble that will leave Russia like any other Third World oil exporter--poorer and unfree.
The Russians want to scrap NATO in favor of EATO--the Euro-Atlantic Treaty Organization--which will have Russia as a charter member and have all the teeth of the United Nations. Which would be fine with Russia, since they have good luck in bending the UN and less luck pushing NATO around. All EATO is good for is being the tool to eliminate NATO. Call the Russian proposal NYETO if you like, but don't consider it a real security organization that would actually promote Western security.
The Russians whine that NATO pushes east and that if Ukraine, for example, joins NATO, then Russia won't respect Ukrainian sovereignty:
Mr. Trenin argues that if Ukraine is admitted to NATO's membership action program, which could happen as early as December, "that would start a political warfare campaign in Ukraine," he says. "I see Russia ceasing to value the sovereignty of Ukraine now that it's dropping into the US lap. I see a harshening of the tone in Moscow. The whole foreign policy of Russia will change."
And why is it unthinkable for Ukraine to join NATO?
"Russia's view is that NATO creates new divisions in Europe," says Tatiana Parkhalina, director of the official Center for European Security Studies in Moscow. Unlike the previous cycle of NATO expansion, which took in Eastern European states of lesser strategic concern to Russia, the new candidates are part of the core of the former USSR. "Ukraine is felt by Russians as part of traditional Russian lands. To many Russians it's just unthinkable for it to become part of an outside military alliance," she says.
Because Russia currently has no respect for Ukrainian sovereignty!
As for the Russians harshening their tone? That ship sailed a while ago when the old KGB took control of Russia. The Russians are developing a whole "stabbed in the back" theory to explain their loss in the Cold War:
"Gorbachev made deep concessions to the West in order to break out of the vicious cycle of the arms race. But later, when Russia was going through a painful economic transition and we needed support, the West turned away," says Andrei Grachev, who was a Kremlin adviser and Gorbachev's presidential spokesman at the time. "Despite promises that had been given to us, the West decided to use [Russia's weakness and economic turmoil] in order to expand NATO to the east. I believe that the anti-Western moods present in Russian society today can be explained by the fact that the West treated Russia as a vanquished enemy," rather than a potential partner, he says.
Russia isn't a part of the West because Russia's leaders lately have been a bunch of a-holes. Right now I'm glad we've pushed NATO east as fast as possible. Russia has a lot further to go if it ever rebuilds its military and that alone will deter the Russians. I seriously get an eerie inter-war feel for the whole situation.
You know, the common wisdom is that the Treaty of Versaille was too harsh on Imperial Germany after World War I, which led to the rise of Hitler. When you compare the occupation, dismemberment, and de-Nazification of Germany after 1945 which created a prosperous and democratic allied Germany, you have to conclude that the Allies weren't nearly harsh enough in 1918.
And since 1991, we've treated the Russians with kid gloves, and now they too think they've been betrayed and deny they were really defeated in the Cold War. Now the Russians pretend they were being reasonable and just voluntarily gave up their empire. Of course, occupying Russia and de-Commiefying Moscow was never going to happen. We didn't have much choice at the time since Russia still had lots of working nukes. But the result has been a Russia that increasingly acts like they want to be our enemy.
So expand NATO and patiently wait out the ex-Soviet generation. In time, more Russians will realize that the real threat to Russia comes from the Moslem south and Chinese east, and that Russia has been busy alienating the very organization that might save them.