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“Expanding NATO without consensus is a very serious mistake”

José Antonio Zorrilla (Bilbao, 1946) is a retired diplomat, as well as a writer and film scriptwriter. He has passed through a dozen delegations, including Moscow, where he spent four years as consul general, and Georgia, where he was ambassador to the Caucasus states. He also in Finland and Poland at the time of the ‘iron curtain’. And he was consul in the Chinese city of Shanghai. On the 29th he will participate in a forum of the Olof Palme Foundation on the future of Europe together with personalities such as Javier Solana. He is an authoritative voice to speak about the conflict in Ukraine on an unstable and complex board. Zorrilla, who unmitigatedly condemns Putin’s destructive power, leaves the official discourse to certify that the West has not done its homework with respect to Russia and that expanding NATO without consensus is a “very serious mistake” with consequences.

– Did you ever think that Putin would take the step of invading all of Ukraine? This has not happened suddenly.

– No. In this I agree with the father of all diplomats, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, who said he was wrong and apologized. He said that there had been a war in the world, that the UN had been created as a security system and had failed. That something bad was going to happen was certain, but an invasion with nine Army Corps attacking Ukraine from nine different points, never.

– Was the Maidan revolution in kyiv, in 2014, the trigger for what is happening now?

– No, it started earlier. It begins in 1990 when George Bush tells Gorbachev that they could come to an agreement. Gorbachev would authorize German reunification and they, in turn, could offer him not to extend NATO an inch. And at that moment, the right-hand man of the US Foreign Minister, Robert B. Zoellick, goes to Bush Sr. and says: ‘Hey, these guys will kill NATO if they do that.’ And since they didn’t want that, what they do is give money to Russia, they bribe it, so that it admits the reunification. That is where the faith between the US and Russia begins to break down. But the Maidan, of course, is decisive. A pro-Russian had been elected President of the Republic and by refusing to sign an agreement with the EU to strengthen his ties with Moscow, a protest instigated by the CIA and the information services took place. Fuck Europe! Three days earlier, Putin had given Yanukovych 3,000 million euros and, seeing that Yanukovych was being pushed by a Maidan with Western security services behind him, he kept Crimea. And with the eastern regions of Ukraine, which are absolutely Russian, exacerbating what was already a downhill slope.

– Two world wars and dozens of regional war conflicts. It seems that we have no memory and that we do not learn from the lessons of history.

– Totally agree, yes. Horrible. I am seeing how the ghosts of war rise again, and it is because of incompetence and clumsiness.

Power relationships

– Qualified observers have already warned that if the Alliance expanded when the USSR no longer exists, Russia would do something wrong.

– That was said by George F. Kennan, a mythical diplomat, with unforgettable words. Then, those who propose that we expand NATO without consensus will say: ‘You see, the Russians are like that, we already told you.’ And it will be false. Kissinger, Brzezinski (in his day, US Security Adviser) and Kennan have already explicitly said that Ukraine should never join NATO.

– The religious keys that also underlie the conflict have not been highlighted as they deserve. Ukraine is a sacred piece of Mother Russia ever since the Rus’ prince Vladimir was baptized in Crimea.

– Indeed. The official title of the Patriarch of Moscow is that he is the Patriarch of Russia, of Little Russia (Ukraine, in his language) and of Belarus. They are one, because they are united by the Russian language, by the alphabet of Cyril and Methodius, and by the Orthodox faith. That faith covers three spaces: Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, so trying to turn a sacred part of that world into an Orthodox colony based, above all, on a delusional hatred of Mother Russia becomes a cause of war, and This is how Putin understood it. This does not mean that I can understand or want to justify the barbarity that he has done.

– Has the West behaved badly with Russia?

– Right or wrong in strategy does not usually exist. Relations between countries are governed by terms of power. I do not want to go into unscientific considerations, but what is clear is that, since 1990, it has been pushed, pushed and pushed. Converting NATO, which has a defensive function, into a battering ram to conquer Eurasia has led, precisely, to the opposite. That is to say, Russia and China have come together, it is an existential relationship, and it has backfired on us. Why, from 1990 until now, has the US insisted on an ‘open door’ policy for NATO, yet has established a security system, the ‘Monroe Doctrine’, whereby no foreign military organization can intervene in NATO? the entire American continent from the North Pole to the South Pole? This asymmetry is incomprehensible.

– What part of the fault does the United States have in what has come to this?

– The blame thing does not apply in international relations, but I try to explain it. The security of Europe, from the German ascent, always depended on the union and good work between Russia and Germany. Bismarck created a system of alliances in which the important thing was friendship with Russia, but when Frederick William II fired the chancellor, this caused two world wars. The United States, in its intention to maintain NATO, which is what really matters to them, instead of relying on Germany, which had an excellent relationship with Russia due to ‘ostpolitik’, relies on Poland and the Atlantic Alliance. And that is something monstrous that can lead us to an apocalyptic war. You’ve made a wild strategic mistake. Poland and NATO cannot be substitutes for friendship between Germany and Russia. There is no possibility of security in Europe without Russia.

Compete against China

– Do you think that Putin can succumb to the temptation to push the nuclear button?

– He said it himself. The plane of weapons that Russia has is spectacular. For example, an amazing thing: it has intercontinental underwater drones.

– Do you dare to make a prediction about the conflict?

– No. Violence is known how it starts, but, by definition, it is uncontrollable. It is not that we are heading towards another ‘cold war’, we are already in a ‘cold war’. I repeat what Kennan said: expanding NATO is a bad idea that can lead us to Russia adopting the most paranoid measures against the West. And, unfortunately, it has been fulfilled.

– The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has even said that the solution lies in the elimination of Putin.

– Another stupidity. Behind Russia, behind Putin, there is a lot of country. In the UN there is a Security Council in which the most important countries have the right to veto, but in the General Assembly, they do not. When the problem got there, they were surprised that more than half of the world’s population did not want to condemn the invasion. The West is the West, but there is much more world. This cannot be fixed with more weapons and a lot of NATO. It is fixed with a political, economic, and social system that generates goods and services in a competitive regime against China, and it does not seem that we are capable of doing it.


George Walker Bush, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, UN, NATO, European Union (EU), Germany, Belarus, Caucasus, United States, Europe, Moscow, Poland, Ukraine, War in Ukraine

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