In the middle of this week, I suddenly thought that I was ill.

Moreover, he fell seriously ill - with the prospect of thermometers, doctors and even an ambulance: having read the detailed political statement of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about his bloc and Russia, I did not find anything there that I would like to argue with.

I quote this fragment of Stoltenberg’s video speech, naturally dedicated to the conflict in Ukraine, at an event of the British newspaper Financial Times on the RIA Novosti website: “We need to understand that the end of this war will not mean a return to good or normal relations with Russia.

We must be ready for a long difficult relationship with Russia.”

However, my panic about the state of my own health did not last very long.

I read another Stoltenberg thesis at this event: NATO “for decades tried to build a constructive relationship with Russia, to have a meaningful dialogue, including immediately before the start of the conflict in Ukraine.”

And they let me go right away.

No, I didn't get sick.

It was Stoltenberg - perhaps by sheer coincidence or mistake - who gave out for a change a statement with which I, as a Russian journalist, can fully agree.

But "amazing accidents" can't happen all the time, right?

Having given out something indisputable, for reasons that, apparently, will remain unknown (suddenly it was not me, but Stoltenberg?), the NATO Secretary General immediately “corrected” and spoke about the alliance’s attempts to “build constructive relations with Russia.”

My senior comrade, long-term Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and now Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Grigory Karasin, once told me during an interview: “Any profession should not interfere with being people who are interesting for communication, especially diplomacy.”

As Sergei Lavrov likes to say, "diplomacy is the ability to negotiate."

Though the times were different.

On his anniversary, former First Deputy Minister Georgy Kornienko told the following story: one day Gromyko called him and asked him to urgently prepare a draft message from the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee to the President of the United States.

When the project was reported to Gromyko, Kornienko was asked: “Has the minister corrected a lot?”

He replied that two words had been crossed out at the end - "sincerely yours."

At the same time, Gromyko remarked: “Too cynical!”

I am glad that the NATO Secretary General is trying to remain "a person of interest to communicate."

But at the same time, I am sorry that he did not adopt Andrei Gromyko's formula that excessive cynicism in diplomacy is unacceptable.

And there is so much cynicism (or at least slyness) in Stoltenberg’s thesis about NATO’s attempts to “build constructive relations with Russia” that the situation resembles a well-known anecdote from Soviet times: “Emperor Napoleon and his faithful Marshal Murat are reading the Pravda newspaper with a report on the November 7 parade .

Murat enthusiastically looks at the photo with the passing troops and equipment: “Sir, we need at least a battalion of such guardsmen, we would never have lost the battle of Waterloo!”

Napoleon continues to read the newspaper Pravda.

Murat: “Your Majesty, we would have at least one such tank, we would never have lost the battle of Waterloo!

» Napoleon continues to read the newspaper Pravda.

Murat enthusiastically: “We would have at least one such missile, we would never have lost the battle of Waterloo!”

Napoleon looks up from the Pravda newspaper, looks at Murat and says: “My friend, we would like at least one such newspaper!

No one would have known that we had lost the Battle of Waterloo!”

If NATO really tried to build "constructive relations with Russia", then what is happening in Europe would definitely not happen now.

"Constructive relationship" implies consideration and respect for the interests of the partner.

And NATO, demonstrating such consideration and respect at the rhetorical level, at the level of practical steps, throughout the post-Soviet period, tried to radically change the strategic balance of forces in Europe not in favor of Russia.




No less clear.

To be honest, it is still not completely clear to me what exactly the strategic calculation was based on.

On the hope that Moscow will not notice anything or, even if it notices, will not do anything?

Of course, all reflections on the past do not change anything.

The political (and not only political) catastrophe in Europe caused by NATO's miscalculation is already a fact.

But if we cannot change the past, then we are still able to change our present and our future.

Another thing is that for this you need to soberly assess the chain of mistakes and miscalculations that led to the dramatic events of 2022.

Are Western leaders ready for this?

I will believe in something like this only when Stoltenberg (or, more likely, his successor as NATO Secretary General), instead of stories about “attempts to build constructive relations with Russia”, finally begins to call a spade a spade.

As follows from the beginning of this text, sometimes (never mind that it is very rare) the leadership of NATO still succeeds.

The point of view of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.