Letter: Russia's Nato fears

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Anatol Lieven's fine article of 27 April ("We should not rule out a peaceful solution in Kosovo") should be compulsory reading for all Nato, Serbian and Russian leaders. Most Westerners have little idea how Nato's actions appear to outsiders. I was myself shocked, during a recent visit to Moscow, to realise how profoundly Nato's actions have terrified nearly everyone there.

One friend greeted me on the phone with the words, "Ah Robert, I'm so glad to hear you, even though you've started bombing us." She clearly meant both halves of the sentence.

Another friend, a writer of impeccably democratic credentials, claimed that if our quarrel was with Milosevic, we could simply have had him assassinated. The fact that we hadn't proved that the States wanted Milosevic in power, so as to have an excuse to invade the Balkans and extend their empire closer to the Russian border.

Both these reactions are clearly hysterical. This does not, however, mean that we can dismiss them: a vicious spiral of hysteria and panic can all too often turn out to be self-fulfilling.

Most alarming of all was the number of people who think there is a real likelihood of war between Russia and the West. According to a poll reported on 3 April, 63 per cent of Russians now believe there is reason to fear a Nato attack on Russia. A few months ago that number was in the low twenties.


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