Consequences of Tensions between Russia & NATO

2022/01/15 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online – Opinion: Tension between Russia and NATO has entered into new stage during the recent months. Verbal assaults of NATO and EU members against Russia continue in different ways. Russia opponents believe that Putin who misses the former Soviet Union is recreating Russian influenced region in the East. As they believe, he who considers the dismemberment of the Soviet Union as Geopolitical Tragedy knows that he intends to review the post-Soviet Union international order and acquires his clout over the former Soviet Union republics. Mahmoud Fazeli, Analyst of International Issues

On December 17, 2021 Putin proposed the Americans and NATO a new agreement to drive them out of Eastern Europe, a proposal that redraws the geopolitical map of the Continent and allows Moscow, directly or indirectly, to take the control of the former Soviet Union region. Ukraine is the main objective for the time being. Unlike Georgia that was weakened after the Russian military intervention, Belarus was forced to bow before Kremlin’s political and economic pressures. Ukraine announces relentlessly its dependence on the West and is looking for further alignment with NATO and the EU. But entrance of this great neighbor to the Atlantic alliance has always been a red line for Putin.

Putin is looking for further expansion of NATO, permanent wrapping up of its bases in the former Soviet Union domain and withdrawal of the U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. Kremlin also called for NATO to stop its activities in the Eastern European countries, particularly in Baltic states as well as Poland to indirectly push the U.S. to leave Europe. He has massed more than 100000 military forces and heavy equipment along its borders with Ukraine and can launch a military intervention within a few hours.

Putin also uses the paradox in the U.S. foreign policy that from one hand has avoided the veto of Ukraine joining NATO and from the other hand does not want to defend Kiev in case of the Russian military invasion. Some experts raise the probability of NATO expansion to be stopped at Ukraine and Georgia. Russian conditions to the U.S. and NATO is a great challenge not only for Ukraine but also for the present security order of Europe. Putin considers the end of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the twentieth century. Now, Putin wants NATO to withdraw from all countries that used to be the members of Warsaw Pact and gives assurance that NATO will never expand Eastward. Russia has always protested against NATO expansion and called for a trans-European security structure in which it will play an important role.

The EU role is now weakened in (recent) developments and Putin who does not take the EU seriously intends to impose his views vis-à-vis the U.S. Russia wants to raise its fate and a redefinition of security architecture of the Continent with the U.S. Joseph Burrell EU foreign policy chief called Russia’s demands for the first time called the Russian demands as completely unacceptable and warned:” the territorial integrity of a country and the right of a sovereign state to decide on its own cooperation with other countries or alliances are not negotiable principles. Brussels can not remain as a neutral observer in the negotiations about the security structure of Europe for the coming years”. Europe is unhappy about the modality of holding the future talks between the U.S. and Russia to review the security of Ukraine and the Continent. European leaders have extended the sanctions against Russia for another six months. After rejecting the Russian veto on the probable joining of Kiev to NATO coalition, the EU warned Moscow about the grave consequences of military intervention in Ukraine. Leaders of 27 member countries of the European Union say any further invasion of Ukraine will have serious consequences and high price in response”.

NATO that has condemned the accession of Crimea peninsula to Russia in March 2014 calls for the respect to territorial sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia and Western front recriminate each other against instigations through military buildup along their common borders. In mid-December 2021, Russia put forward two pacts, one for the U.S. and another one for NATO containing the summary of its demands to lower tension. The context of the pact prohibits NATO expansion particularly to include Ukraine and limits the West military cooperation in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union without imposition of similar measures upon Russia.

After the accession of Crimea to Russia in 2014, NATO enforced an action plan containing meaningful strengthening of NATO Reaction Forces, increasing its military forces from 13000 to 40000, and setting up a common operational force of armed forces (army, navy and air force) at the supreme preparedness level. The force is also known as NATO Defense Javelin and its periodical commandership circulates among Germany, Poland, Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey and France. As of January1, 2022, the commandership will be borne by France. The country assumes the responsibility in conditions when the tensions have been risen along the borders of Ukraine and Russia, therefore, the relations between NATO and Russia have been strained.

Invitation extended by Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, to hold NATO-Russia Council (NRC) in January is a ray of hope among international circles. He has decided to hold the NATO-Russia Council in near future, and has established its contacts with Moscow over the issue. In situations when security – strategic dialogue of Russia and the U.S., NATO Russia Council, and or OSCE Permanent Council will start soon, Russia stresses on the necessity of the beginning of talks with the U.S. to formulate legal and international assurances for the security of Russia and to remove the possibility of NATO expansion Eastwards and stationing of weapons in Russia’s neighboring countries. From Moscow’s point of view, the presence of NATO military officials and their ranks at Russia NATO Council will represent the extent of preparedness of the Alliance to hold serious talks.

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