Photo: Armored unit participates in a NATO military drill. Credit: Sgt. Sebastien Frechette
Presidents from nine east and central European countries recently met in Bucharest to lay the groundwork for exposing their countries to war and have wasted no time in implementing their strategy. All part of NATO’s “eastern flank”, the leaders pledged to increase alliance member states’ military presence in their countries, raise military spending to at least 2 percent of their GDP, and escalate the crisis with Russia.
The meeting was held in advance of the NATO Summit in Madrid to be held later this month, where the alliance is expected to release its official policy on “the new security reality”. The declarations of the Bucharest 9 Group underscore that the NATO governments of Eastern Europe are preparing for war, not peace.
Bucharest 9: alliance contrived for aggression
The Bucharest 9 Group was formed in 2015 at the initiative of the Polish and Romanian governments after the 2014 referendum in Crimeans to leave Ukraine. Since that time, the B9 has been a vehicle for promoting NATO expansion and hostility towards Russia.
Artificial groups such as the Bucharest 9 give the U.S. diplomatic cover. Instead of the U.S. acting alone, these nine countries supposedly have goals that align with U.S. plans to encircle and weaken Russia. The reality, however, is that U.S. conflict with Russia would immiserate the lives of the 95 million people in these countries and billions around the world.
During the Summit, the B9 Group adopted a new military posture of “forward defense” as opposed to “forward presence”. This change in phrasing signifies a growing belligerence from the smaller countries within NATO vis-a-vis Russia. B9 members additionally declared they would rachet military spending to at least 2 percent of their GDP by 2024.
Among inflammatory statements supporting expanding NATO to Finland and Sweden, the summit released a joint statement declaring the “territorial integrity of Moldova and Georgia.” Moldova and Georgia contain two autonomous regions, Priednestrovie and South Ossetia, whose independence is guaranteed by small defensive outposts of the Russian military. Provocations from the B9 Group at the behest of the United States relating to these regions have the potential to drag Russia into a larger war.
The B9 countries are recklessly laying the groundwork to turn Eastern Europe into a sacrifice zone for the U.S. empire’s schemes for regional domination.
East European governments tail to U.S. imperialism
Each of the nine countries in the B9 Group were formerly socialist, and the Baltic states were part of the same country as Russia – the Soviet Union. Since the overthrow of socialism and the restoration of capitalism, Eastern Europe has seen an economic and human devastation unparalleled in times of peace. Bulgaria’s population has decreased by 20 percent between 1988 and 2020. One-fifth of Romanians of a working age have left the country.
The purported topic of the governments of the B9 Group was “saving democracy in Europe”, yet democracy could hardly describe the conditions in which East Europeans are forced to live.
In Romania, it is illegal to organize a public gathering or protest without approval from the government. Twenty-five percent of the population earns less than $500 a month. Thousands of villages eke out an existence without running water and electricity. The far-right Polish government enacted an outright ban on abortion and declared swaths of the country “free of LGBT ideology.” In Latvia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, one can be sent to prison for anywhere from 3 to 25 years for speaking publicly “in support of Russia”.
The Latvian government set up a police hotline for people to report their suspicions. One quarter of Latvians are Russian.
The capitalist Eastern Europe regimes do not reflect the will of their peoples. None of the peoples in Eastern Europe voted to escalate military aggression against Russia. Yet these same governments are opening their lands for military exploitation by the Pentagon. The real force behind the Bucharest 9 Summit and the upcoming NATO Summit is U.S. imperialism and its drive for conflict with Russia.