While the Ukraine crisis is testing NATO’s unity and resolve, this crisis is one of several challenges facing the alliance, the experts group argued. These challenges arise from four major shifts taking place in world affairs.
The first shift is Russia’s emergence as an openly revisionist power whose actions threaten to replace a rules-based order in Europe with one governed by the application of military power and economic coercion. The Ukraine crisis is a manifestation of this change.
The second shift is the sudden unravelling of states and political order across parts of the Middle East and North Africa. …Sponsored Ads
The third shift is the rapid escalation of tensions between China and its neighbours. …
The fourth shift is the increasingly strained system of international rules and institutions, which seems less and less able to manage the security challenges arising from the first three shifts.
“A year ago, if I were asked ‘is Russia a threat to Latvia?’ I would have said militarily no, although politically and economically they are always trying to influence us,” says Latvian lawmaker Ojars Kalnins, who chairs his parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. “This year, because of Ukraine, suddenly we realize that they could be a military threat.”
That fear has prompted NATO to move forces east to protect the three Baltic nations that joined the Western military alliance in 2007, along with other countries from the former Soviet Bloc.
Thousands of allied troops have been holding exercises in the region, NATO warships are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea and fighter jets have intensified air policing.
The United States will strengthen its presence in the Black Sea region using part of a $1 billion fund promised to NATO allies on Russia’s borders, and will continue to send warships to the area, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Romania on Thursday.
Hagel is the latest high-ranking American official to visit Europe since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as Washington looks to reassure allies jittery about Moscow’s intentions in its former Cold War backyard.
The tour coincides with a visit by President Barack Obama to Poland this week, when he promised to increase military support for eastern European NATO members, including a $1 billion fund to support and train the armed forces of NATO states.
As NATO began to strengthen defenses in recent weeks, Russia accused it of violating a 1997 pledge to limit its military profile in eastern Europe. The U.S.-led military alliance responded that it was compelled by Russia’s territorial appetite to take defensive steps. The 1997 accord tied NATO’s force posture to “the current and foreseeable security environment,” something altered by Russia’s military buildup.
“The operational and combat readiness of the alliance’s forces is intensifying on Russia’s borders,” Gerasimov said. “In these conditions, we can’t stay on the sidelines of what is happening. We will have to take measures in response.”
Russia’s staredown with NATO is intensifying across the region. Russia more than tripled the size of its military helicopter unit near Latvia, increasing the number of choppers to about 100 in the course of the Ukrainian crisis, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said April 25. Helicopters stationed at the Ostrov air base can reach the Baltic state’s capital, Riga, in about an hour.
Notice how Eastern Europe has reached a tipping point just like Eastern Asia. Both Russia and China are allying themselves together economically and to some extent militarily. It wouldn’t take much of a miscalculation for things to start escalating out of control.
In 2014, Western officials are learning about their strategic errors the hard way. They have come to realize that NATO’s collective defense mission in Europe is still vital because Russia is in the business of changing international borders by force, that NATO never had to go “out of area” for a compelling mission, that the Kremlin didn’t see NATO expansion to Russia’s borders as benign, and that NATO missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya cost a great deal in lives and money but they only achieved mixed results.
As U.S. and European officials scramble to devise a coherent, credible, effective response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, they must also undertake a fundamental strategic reassessment. Europe still faces inter-state security threats, in the form of Russian aggression. NATO’s core mission — collective defense — is still vital. Deterrence and defense are still needed in Europe. And, as in many great-power relationships, the challenge is to deter aggression and reassure allies without provoking escalation.
For U.S. and European leaders — and for NATO — it’s back to basics.
Russia could deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the country’s westernmost Kaliningrad region if NATO decides to strengthen its military presence in Eastern Europe, Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky told RIA Novosti.
“Russia is a nuclear power,” he said. “If NATO becomes more active, we will deploy a division of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region,” added Buzhinsky, who previously headed the department of international agreements in the Russian Defense Ministry.
In westernmost Russia, a tactical nuclear base emerges as a threat to NATO countries | GlobalPost
In response to the US missile defense system in Poland, Russia is reported to be planning to field a tactical nuclear weapon, called the Iskander, in the region of Kalingrad, in westernmost Russia.
Many view Iskander missiles, with a range of 400 km, as a weapon that could have military and political influence.
Historically, Kalingrad was German territory until World War II and was known as Konigsberg. Germany lost the territory to the Soviet Union in 1945; at the Potsdam Conference, it became a part of the Soviet Union.
After addressing ambassadors from the 28 NATO nations, Abe drew a parallel between the situation in Ukraine, where Russia has occupied and annexed Crimea, and Asia, in an apparent allusion to a standoff between Beijing and Tokyo over tiny uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
“We will not tolerate any change of status quo through intimidation or coercion or force. This is not only applicable to Europe or Ukraine. This is applicable to East Asia and it is applicable to the whole world,” Abe said at a joint press conference with Rasmussen.
Abe urged Russia and Ukraine’s political parties to recognize the legitimacy of Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election, which the West sees as crucial to help stabilize Ukraine after weeks of worsening violence that Western officials accuse Russia of helping to stir up.
Mr B?rzi?š outlines eight phases in this “new” kind of warfare (which to me seems rather like the tactics used by Hitler in the 1930s). First is to prepare the ground – or rather, to tilt the playing field – by a mixture of economic, political, diplomatic and psychological pressure. Next come operations to confuse the already weakened political and military leadership of the targeted country, with leaks and disinformation to degrade their decision-making abilities. Third comes intimidation and bribery so that state officials do not carry out their orders and duties. Fourth is destabilising tactics aimed at the population, using propaganda to whip up discontent among the population, and groups of trained provocateurs (who may be intelligence officers, private contractors, or political activists).
Fifth come blockades, perhaps in the form of no-fly zones, or on the ground with the siege and occupation (by contractors and disguised special forces – the “men in green” seen in Ukraine) of military bases and government buildings. Sixth are cyber-attacks, covert deployment of special forces, industrial sabotage, intense diplomatic pressure and propaganda aimed at the outside world. Only then does something close to old-style warfare break out, with (seventh) the use of precision munitions, but also those based on electro-magnetic radiation and non-lethal biological weapons. The eighth phase is to eliminate remaining points of resistance – identified by special forces and then attacked with advanced weapons and if necessary airborne assault.
NATO, on a good day, would respond to stages seven and eight if they were used against a member country. But not the first six. And if those have gone well, any outside military response will be too late.
Critics claim that by expanding NATO, the West violated the terms for ending the Cold War. The argument has a certain moral logic to it, suggesting that if only the West—the United States, really—hadn’t been so arrogant towards a defeated and demoralized foe, then relations with Russia would be far less difficult today. But this morality play only holds water if we believe that NATO expansion, first, violated Western promises to Russia and, second, threatened Russian security. The record demonstrates the opposite.
The most notable authority on this matter, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, has complained that the West broke its solemn promise not to expand NATO. It is true that in the 1990 agreement for German reunification, the allies pledged not to base NATO troops in the former East Germany. However, this and other agreements reached in the early 1990s—even with the most generous parsing of diplomatic phraseology—are, at best, ambiguous with respect to NATO’s further eastward expansion. More to the point, neither the United States nor Russia anticipated at the time the stampede from across Eastern Europe to join the alliance that would soon ensue, so there was no basis for any meaningful commitment to refrain from NATO expansion. To insist otherwise, as NATO expansion critics do, is to impute a masterful clairvoyance and Machiavellian duplicity on the part of American and European leaders in the early 1990s, which they simply did not possess. The vision of a Europe “whole and free”, enunciated by President George H.W. Bush, neither contemplated nor excluded the gradual process of enlarging Euro-Atlantic institutions. When NATO expansion became Western policy, Russian leaders were regularly consulted and informed, most notably in regular, amicable conversations between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin.
Georgia is pushing for fast-track NATO membership in the fall as protection from Russia, whose involvement in Ukraine’s political crisis has sparked the worst standoff with the U.S. and Europe since the Cold War.
“It’s time for Georgia to receive an unequivocal and well-deserved signal that its integration to NATO is progressing,” State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Alex Petriashvili said yesterday in a phone interview from the capital, Tbilisi. “As long as there’s uncertainty and ambivalence about NATO’s integration prospects, Georgia will be at risk of recurrent provocations on Russia’s part.”
That’s great for Georgia, but what do we get out of it?