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From Lucas Leiroz: He is a social science researcher at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical advisor.

Once again, NATO is on the verge of unnecessarily escalating tensions in Eastern Europe just to face Russia. According to recent statements by some senior officers, the Western military alliance plans to station troops in Romania and Bulgaria to strengthen the current “security system” for Ukraine. In practice, such an attitude only increases polarization and disunity between states in this region and undermines efforts for international peace and stability.

According to a recent report in Der Spiegel, the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, General Tod Wolters, has suggested that the Western Alliance send military forces to Bulgaria and Romania. The reason for such a maneuver would be the alleged need to face the growing Russian military presence on the western border. In general, Tod Walters advocates including Romania and Bulgaria in NATO’s current defense concept for Ukraine, whose remnants also include Poland and the Baltic States. In this way it would be possible to create an Eastern Europe that is almost entirely occupied by the Alliance. Such an expanded occupation plan is referred to as “increased forward presence” and appears to be the use of NATO to gain positions and undermine any Russian or Belarusian influence in Eastern Europe.

There is no doubt that such a plan would be detrimental to the pursuit of regional peace, but the big problem is that such a measure has also been called for by the Romanian and Bulgarian governments themselves, through NATO tales of alleged Russian ones Plans for this region seem increasingly misled. States with little military and economic power and little international influence are usually hardest hit by the spread of this type of misleading discourse, and therefore there is currently a tendency among Eastern European states to increasingly admit a NATO presence on their territory demand. Romania and Bulgaria – as well as the Baltic states and Poland – fear that they will suffer from the collateral damage of a possible conflict between Ukraine and Russia, and rely on the Western alliance as an important ally in the face of this (nonexistent) danger.

So far, NATO has not given any precise information about the possibility of reinforcing its troops in Romania and Bulgaria and has not commented on Wolters’ statements. However, under pressure from the international media, spokesmen for the alliance said the issue could be discussed at the next summit. Given the current tensions on Russia’s western border, any form of tougher opposition to Moscow is expected to be discussed, which worries security analysts around the world when one considers the harmful effects of such an attitude on the negotiation and rapprochement process that may begin soon.

The recent virtual summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, despite the tensions and uncertainties, brought a kind of “hope” as the meeting ended with a mutual promise of dialogue between the leaders of NATO and Russia. Moscow called for an end to NATO military maneuvers in Eastern Europe as a prerequisite for a summit between Russia and the Western governments. Now that there is an opportunity to send more troops to the region, the likelihood of such a summit between Moscow and NATO has decreased, further jeopardizing efforts to pacify the European area.

There are only two ways of interpreting the deployment of new NATO troops at this point in time: Either the Alliance gives a clear signal that it has no interest in the summit or in a peaceful solution to the Eastern European situation, or it gives the go-ahead Dialogue and declares, on the other hand, that the occupation of the region and the encirclement of Russia will increase if their interests are not achieved. In both cases, NATO’s game looks like a major strategic mistake.

When Russia has no interest in invading or declaring war on a European country, and NATO leaders and strategists know that it is not. The Russian interest in ending the NATO occupation of Eastern Europe is to contain the violence and hostility that has persisted in the region for decades and to pave the way for a possible peaceful conflict between Moscow and the West in order to influence the states there gain weight.

Russia is also interested in protecting its own borders, which are suffering from the direct and collateral effects of the increase in enemy forces, but Moscow is not “afraid” of the presence of troops in neighboring countries simply because there is no interest in confrontation consists. It is therefore a major strategic mistake to try to play Russia as a trump card with hostile forces in neighboring countries.

For the sake of peace and security for all states, it is best that NATO rejects any interest in escalating hostilities and focuses on the possibility of peaceful dialogue with Russia in order to find a common solution for the benefit of all.

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