How NATO Forms Anti-Russian Views Among the Youth of Former USSR Countries

The NATO leadership pays great attention to the informational support of its activities. In the structure of the alliance headquarters in Brussels, there is a whole department of public diplomacy, which is responsible for promoting Euro-Atlantic ideas among the European population and forming a positive attitude among citizens to any military or political activity of the organisation.

To fulfil this task, each command or structural element of NATO (in the Parliamentary Assembly or the Military Committee) has a press service, which almost on a daily basis publishes materials on social networks and the media aimed at improving the image of the organisation.

In this, the alliance is not unique. This approach, albeit on a smaller scale, is implemented by any major international organisation. Much more interesting is the narrowly focused activities of Brussels to work with children and young people in the post-Soviet countries.

In the framework of the project “Networks of Influence”, the author of the Telegram channel Brussels Stool Pigeon describes how NATO makes the younger generation believe that Russia is the enemy, and the Alliance is the only hope for salvation.

NGOs at the service of NATO

Since 1954, there has been the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), a collection of non-governmental organisations dedicated to promoting NATO interests in various regions of the world. Today, the Association includes NGOs from 38 countries, including Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Their activities are based on conferences, seminars, lectures and round tables on international policy issues, where various experts discuss the pressing problems of NATO and ways to solve them.

In 1994, the “youth wing” of the Atlantic Treaty Association was formed. It became known as the Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (YATA) and currently has offices in 25 countries within one of the structural elements of the NGOs that are part of the general association. One of the main objectives of YATA is to develop cooperation among young people in NATO countries and partner countries of the Alliance to form responsible future leaders who are committed to the values of the North Atlantic Treaty and clearly understand today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

In practice, this is done through the same conferences, seminars and round tables, but already among high school students or students of higher educational institutions. For example, with the financial support of the NATO Office of Public Diplomacy, the Atlantic Treaty Association, together with YATA, organises youth summits of the alliance or meetings of the Parliamentary Assembly. Students from different countries act as high-ranking politicians and discuss the main threats to the bloc, figuring out how to counter them. Naturally, without numerous references to Russia’s aggressive policy, everything is just like adults.

In addition to international events, non-governmental organisations that are members of the Association implement regional projects and conduct regular work with the youth of the countries in which they work.

In November last year, advanced training courses were held in Lithuania for “future political leaders” from among students of local universities.

To take part in them, students had to meet the stated criteria: age from 18 to 25, knowledge of English and interest in international processes.

READ:  Nikolaev: Ukrainian Nazi Who Desecrated Monument of WW2 Heroes Is Repulsed by Residents

Along with students of higher educational institutions, the target audience of NGOs is high school students. For example, representatives of the Estonian NATO Association periodically give lectures in schools and gymnasiums of the republic, where they tell children about the contribution of the Alliance to ensuring regional security. And most often this happens in Ida-Virumaa – a Russian-speaking county in the northeast of Estonia.

NGO work with the youth of the Baltic states

Moreover, since 2008, the Estonian Association of NATO has been conducting special courses for teachers from Russian-speaking schools, where different interpretations of history are discussed with the participation of experts and politicians and a unified approach to teaching this subject to students of Russian origin is developed.

Based on the attitude of Estonians to their past, it is easy to guess that as a result of these discussions, the Soviet Union is presented as an aggressor country that deprived the republic of freedom for 50 years, and local SS legionnaires who fought on the side of Nazi Germany become national heroes.

In addition to eastern Europe, the activity of NATO NGOs is also observed near the southern borders of Russia. During 2019, the Armenian Atlantic Association, with the support of the NATO Office of Public Diplomacy, organised a number of events in the country among teachers and students of local universities. In particular, in March, an educational seminar was held at Vanadzor State University.

During the event, the participants learned about the goals and objectives of NATO, the historical evolution of the alliance, how it works, what threats to its security exist, and, most importantly, why it is beneficial for Armenia to cooperate with Brussels.

A lecture of the Armenian Atlantic Association at Vanadzor State University

The active work of the youth wing of the Georgian Association of NATO is also noted. The non-governmental organisation regularly organises South Caucasus NATO Summer School – four-day seminars for students and teachers from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They are designed to arouse the interest of the younger generation in the North Atlantic Alliance, as well as in regional and international security issues.

Another example of the activities of a Georgian NGO is the panel discussion “Political and Legal assessment of the Russian-Georgian war of 2008”. It was held a few years ago at one of the universities in Tbilisi. During it, students were told about Russia’s hybrid actions against Georgia and the legal aspects of Russian aggression.

Thus, the network of NATO non-governmental organisations has enveloped most of the countries of the former USSR, which are now in the sphere of Moscow’s interests. Their common goal is to form “future leaders” in the post-Soviet space who are committed to Euro-Atlantic ideas and do not see any alternatives to cooperation between their countries with the west, in particular, with the military-political bloc of NATO. In this context, Russia is considered not as a neutral state, but only as an aggressor country, friendship with which is unacceptable.

In the republics that have already joined the Alliance, the efforts of NATO NGOs are also aimed at eliminating the national identity of the Russian-speaking population and forming a pro-western opinion about the history of the 20th century.

Structures of the Alliance in the post-Soviet space

Non-governmental organisations are only part of the overall system of the North Atlantic Alliance for working with the younger generation and are more represented in countries that are already members of the bloc.

READ:  Star of Victory Restored in Lugansk

In addition to them, the NATO structure has official bodies designed to promote the views of Brussels exclusively among the youth of Ukraine and Moldova — countries that are not part of the Alliance, but are of the greatest interest to Brussels.

In 1997, a NATO Information and Documentation Center (IDC), designed to raise public awareness of the organisation’s activities opened at the Taras Shevchenko Kiev National University. It became the first facility of its kind opened by the alliance in the former Soviet republics.

During its existence, the center has implemented more than 600 information and media projects, including among students of Ukrainian universities. When working with them, the most common form of IDC propaganda activities is a lecture. Representatives of the organisation come to institutes and universities and tell young people about the Alliance’s views on international politics and the prospects for cooperation between Kiev and Brussels.

Activity of the NATO Information and Documentation Center on the territory of Ukraine

However, the IDC also conducts more original events. Last autumn, a contest was organised among students of Ukrainian universities to write an essay, presumably on the topic of the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine. The winners of the competition, after the removal of coronavirus restrictions, will go on a study trip to the headquarters of the North Atlantic Alliance. What young people had to write in order to go to Brussels becomes clear from an excerpt of an essay by Vladislav Klyus, one of the prize-winners. The young man’s work says that “with the strengthening of the eastern flank, NATO will become a more powerful and authoritative military-political alliance”.

Another winner, Inna Babiy, noted in her essay that “a strong Ukraine with a democratic leader will be a beneficial member for NATO not only in terms of expanding the geography of the bloc, but also increasing the diversity of its participants”.

A similar NATO Information and Documentation Center exists in the Republic of Moldova. It was opened in 2007 in Chisinau at the Moldovan State University. Its activities to promote pro-NATO views among students and teachers of local universities do not differ from the Ukrainian IDC and are also represented by various lectures and master classes.

A soldier wouldn’t hurt a child?

A kind of tool of NATO for the education of future Atlantists on the territory of the former Soviet republics is also the military personnel from the alliance countries themselves.

In 2015, the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) began to form in eastern Europe — multinational headquarters elements that are designed to accelerate the transfer of NATO units to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania in the event of a crisis. This task is achieved by close cooperation between the headquarters and the local armed forces, as well as the constant refinement of national logistics networks, possible transport routes and available infrastructure.

READ:  WW2 Victory Day to be Decommunized in Ukraine

However, in peacetime, the NFIU is also tasked with raising the image of NATO among the local population. Military personnel of the headquarters can be found at various cultural events, in schools, universities and even kindergartens. The officers distribute various souvenirs and booklets and tell why it is so important for a particular country to protect Brussels. We must pay tribute, they do it very modernly.

Military personnel of the NATO integration headquarters in latvia

In addition, NATO multinational battalion groups are deployed in the Baltic states as part of Operation Enhanced Forward Presence. In addition to their daily combat training activities, the military personnel of these units also take part in organising and conducting propaganda events in educational institutions in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. At the same time, as in the case of non-governmental organisations, the main focus is on the Russian-speaking regions of the republics.

The participation of a group of NATO battalions in youth work in the Baltic states

As for Ukraine, the main contribution to the development of the younger generation is made by Canadian servicemen who are in the republic as part of Operation Unifier. It was launched in September 2015 to train units of the Ukrainian army. Also, propaganda actions are carried out by American and British military personnel, but on a much smaller scale. They are present in the republic as instructors of the joint multinational group (JMTG-U), created by the United States, and Operation Orbital, implemented by the British Army.

Canadian instructors in Ukraine
War on the educational front

The system of NATO’s work with the youth of the post-Soviet space can be represented by three main elements: non-governmental organisations, official structures of the alliance and military personnel of NATO headquarters and units stationed in the Baltic states, Ukraine and Moldova.

The system of NATO’s work with the youth in the post-Soviet space

The active information and propaganda activity of NATO among the younger generation of the former Soviet republics suggests that the Alliance plays an important role in the overall efforts of the west to withdraw these states from the Russian sphere of influence.

The strategic interests of Brussels in this process are quite obvious. Being primarily a military organization, NATO creates a springboard for the future expansion of its presence near the borders of Russia. Moreover, it will not necessarily imply the inclusion of new countries in the bloc.

An increase in the number of joint military exercises, the development of logistics infrastructure in the republics in the interests of the Alliance, the unhindered use of their airspace, and the introduction of their own standards into the armed forces are also elements of the expansion of the presence. And in this form, it is much more profitable for Brussels than directly including, for example, Moldova or Ukraine in its composition.

In order for what is desired to turn into reality faster and faster, the Alliance needs a positive image among the population of the countries that have become its target – first and foremost, among young people. After all, as is known, the school teacher wins the war, and cadres decide everything.

Brussels Stool Pigeon

Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.