On July 11-12, NATO will hold a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the military alliance is expected to announce plans to rapidly expand military spending, surge troops to Russia’s borders, and dramatically increase its involvement in the war in Ukraine.
At the last NATO summit in June 2022, the alliance pledged to “deliver the full range of forces” needed “for high-intensity, multi-domain warfighting against nuclear-armed peer competitors.”
Under conditions in which the much vaunted counteroffensive by the Ukrainian military has turned into a protracted debacle, NATO is under pressure to directly intervene in the conflict to ensure its goal of, in the words of a former NATO commander, “breaking the back” of Russia.
Against the backdrop of this supercharged climate, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of mining the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) with the aim of blowing it up.
In a video address published Tuesday, Zelensky said that “every day, we are adding content to the NATO summit that will take place in Vilnius next week,” which will ensure “security in Europe,” before turning to the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Zelensky claimed that “Russian troops have placed objects resembling explosives on the roof of several power units of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.” He accused Russia of aiming to “commit new evil” at the plant, adding, “It is the responsibility of everyone in the world to stop it.”
Contrary to Zelensky’s statements, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that no “visible indications of mines or explosives” have been observed at the plant, which is under monitoring by the organization.
The framing of Zelensky’s comments make clear that they are an effort to use any potential incident or provocation at the plant as a pretext for more direct military involvement by NATO in the conflict.
In an article published last week in Politico, Ivo Daalder, former US ambassador to NATO, called for the alliance to respond to any “deliberate nuclear incident” with direct intervention into the conflict.
“In case of any deliberate nuclear incident, the US and key NATO allies need to intervene directly and bring the war to a swift and complete end by helping Ukraine restore control over all its territory,” Daalder wrote.
In an article in February on the revelation by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh that the United States and Ukraine had direct involvement in the bombing of the German-Russian Nord Stream pipeline, the World Socialist Web Site warned that the United States could stage a provocation to justify its direct entry into the war:
In 1898, the explosion of the battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor, portrayed as an act of war, was used to launch the Spanish-American War and dispatch troops to Cuba and the Philippines. The 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident that prompted direct US involvement in the Vietnam War was fabricated… There is the precedent of the September 11, 2001 attacks, which were used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq and the whole ‘war on terror.’
The WSWS added:
The bigger the escalation, the bigger the lie… the White House has it entirely within its power to stage a provocation, aimed at galvanizing public support for the war, whether by provoking a Russian response or manufacturing an “attack” out of whole cloth.
It is unclear whether any such provocation will take place ahead of the summit. It is clear, however, that the summit will be used for a significant escalation of the US conflict with Russia.
Ahead of the summit, a group of retired generals and foreign policy officials called on the United States to explicitly back the military reconquest of Crimea and do everything necessary to ensure this takes place.
The letter’s signatories included retired generals Philip Breedlove and Wesley Clark, both NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as well as Ben Hodges, former commanding general, US Army Europe, and Michael McFaul, former US Ambassador to Russia.
Source: WSWS – NATO plans escalation against Russia at Vilnius summit