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On Thursday, Russia's foreign ministry had some tough words for NATO. First, let's start with what Russia got right: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, founded to counter the threat of Soviet expansion in Europe, has gotten a new lease on life after Russia gobbled up Crimea through a combination of electoral hijinks and stealth warfare. And Russia's westward-looking neighbors really are vocally nervous that they could be next on Russia's menu.
But when the Kremlin accuses NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of essentially yelling "boo!" the lack of self-awareness is darkly amusing. Here's the relevant sentence: "The constant accusations against us by the secretary general convince us that the alliance is trying to use the crisis in Ukraine to rally its ranks in the face of an imaginary external threat to NATO members and to strengthen demand for the alliance... in the 21st century."
So, Poland, Finland, and the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are nervous and clamoring for NATO assurances not because Vladimir Putin is showing an apparently growing appetite for taking chunks of smaller neighbors under the pretext of protecting those countries' ethnic Russian minorities, but because NATO is pointing this out. Got it?
Rasmussen does. "I have this message to Russia," he said Thursday: "You have a choice to stop blaming others for your own actions, to stop massing your troops, to stop escalating this crisis, and start engaging in a genuine dialogue."