Colonel-General Valery Manilov, first deputy chief of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, involuntarily furnished yesterday a compelling argument in favor of NATO’s enlargement in the Baltic region. Speaking against that enlargement in a Duma hearing, Manilov warned that Poland’s imminent accession to NATO would turn the nearby Baltic states into a “zone of acute competition between NATO and Russia.” He was envisaging a situation in which NATO would, in deference to Russia, stop at the “red line” of the western borders of the former USSR (Russian agencies, March 4).
Manilov’s warning only underscored the fact that such self-denial on NATO’s part would generate, rather than avoid, tensions with Russia over countries left out of the alliance. His prediction inadvertently vindicates the view that NATO’s enlargement needs to be a continuing process if it is to guarantee stability, and that stopping the process at some artificial line can only produce systemic instability.
On the same day in Washington, Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel remarked that acceptance of a “Moscow-drawn red line” would redivide Europe and return it to a cold-war situation. Opening NATO’s door to the Baltic states could help avoid such an undesirable development, Oovel told a conference of European and North American defense ministers (BNS, March 4).
UNITED STATES AND OSCE STRONGLY CRITICIZE ARRESTS IN BELARUS.