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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Alexei Fenenko: the critical neutrality of Stockholm and Helsinki

“In the United States developed a new concept of deterrence of Russia and China. This requires creates a belt of hostile countries. Elites of these countries must provide its territory for military bases, and, if necessary, to provoke a military crisis,” – said the newspaper VIEW researcher, Institute of international security problems Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Fenenko.

In Poland 8 July opens the summit of NATO, which could be a turning point, according to the statements of the representatives of the Alliance. The countries-participants of the great expectations from this meeting: to be announced official decision about the increasing presence of NATO forces in such countries as Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Poland proper.

“Since the beginning of NATO expansion Baltic-black sea intermarum became the object of rivalry between Russia and the United States”

Waiting for good news and uninvited, but very interested persons: the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko expects the cheerful words on the accession of his country to the bloc.

Waiting for the outcome of the summit in Russia, where the idea of deploying additional troops, even if temporary, near the state borders is a well-founded fear. About the prospects of the summit, as well as risks and threats in relations NATO-Russia newspaper look told the researcher of the Institute of international security problems Russian Academy of Sciences, associate Professor, faculty of world politics of Moscow state University Alexei Fenenko.

OPINION: NATO Secretary General called the upcoming summit a “turning point”. What can Russia expect from the summit?

Alexei Fenenko: Nothing positive. Strategic decisions were already taken by NATO countries earlier. Immediately after the reunification of the Crimea with Russia was followed by the Bucharest speech, Vice-President of the USA Joseph Biden, where he stated the need to counter growing Russian power in the Black sea. One of the countermeasures Biden ahead of as “building up adequate pressure on Russia on the Baltic sea”, which is our country’s position is weaker than in the black sea. Then followed the Warsaw speech President Barack Obama in which he announced the US intention to deploy American military infrastructure in Eastern Europe. Obama pointed to three core US ally in the region – Romania, Poland and Estonia, and called for expanding NATO’s partnership with neutral countries – Sweden and Finland.

These decisions were enshrined in the Wales NATO summit in September 2014. It was there that a decision was made about the intention to strengthen the defenses of the Eastern European countries and to expand partnership with Stockholm and Helsinki. They spoke about the need to expand partnership with “threatened” former Soviet republics: Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Interestingly, on the eve of the Wales summit, a number of former defence Ministers of Sweden and Finland announced their intention to sign a special Treaty with NATO giving the legal basis for the deployment of contingents of the Alliance in their territory. In Wales this issue is spared, although the Riksdag Committee on foreign Affairs considered the possibility of failure of Sweden’s policy of neutrality in the future. So a backlog is created. Who will prevent NATO to run the program expanded partnership with Finland and Sweden for the implementation of the “Welsh initiative”?

The next step was made at the informal summit in Hannover in April 2016, announcing the transition to accommodation in the Baltic States, Poland, and Romania units of the leading countries of NATO, which will undergo regular rotation. Obama said that the US is counting on the fact that Germany and Britain will provide for this purpose soldiers and military equipment. This means that in these States will arise a permanent military infrastructure and logistics for placement and rotation of the respective units of the leading countries of the Alliance. Here is one step to increasing divisions in Eastern Europe. The Warsaw summit, apparently, will consolidate the strategic decisions of the Wales and Hanover.

OPINION: the Last time the aggressive rhetoric towards Russia sounds from the leading countries of NATO, and representatives from the countries of Eastern Europe. Are they trying to escalate the situation on the eve of the NATO summit?

A. F.: the preparation for the summit really took place in the context of confrontational rhetoric against Russia. In the expert community popular myth that the culprit – a “strategy of provocation”, which supposedly used by Eastern European countries to fuel the Russian-American confrontation. But who makes the leading NATO countries – the US, UK and Germany – to go on about Eastern European countries? If necessary, not only Washington, but even London and Berlin, can quickly stop anti-Russian rhetoric, Warsaw and Vilnius. But no one does: apparently, this situation suits NATO leaders. This is the usual game of “good and bad COP”: any anti-Russian decision can be issued for emergency assistance is “afraid East Europeans”.

OPINION: Can the Eastern Europeans to push their own interests in matters regarding the Founding act of the NATO-Russia?

AF: there is intrigue. A year later, in may 2017, shall expire twenty years from the date of signing of this act. Poland has already stated that it will be categorically against the extension of this document in its present form. So, there is two options. First: NATO makes no representations on the issue of renewal of the Founding act, which means the transition to the “game without rules” in Eastern Europe. Second: NATO stipulate what they would like to replace this agreement. Then Russia and the Alliance will be a dialogue. Whether it will succeed is another question.

OPINION: WITH some confidence we can speak about the strengthening of NATO’s presence in two regions: the black sea and the Baltic. What is the reason? Given the special geopolitical interests of Russia in these regions, what we can expect from the process of strengthening NATO in these directions?

A. F.: the American establishment have not parts of the Baltic and black sea regions. They are United in a single whole – the so-called intermarum, a common geopolitical space between the Baltic and Black seas. This is the term proposed by the first President of Poland Jozef Pilsudski, in the last twenty years is experiencing a rebirth. With the beginning of NATO enlargement and the Baltic-black sea intermarum became the object of rivalry between Russia and the United States. This conflict space includes Finland and Sweden, where there are discussions on whether to maintain a neutral status, the Baltic countries, vystupaya for maximum confrontation of NATO and the EU with Russia, Poland, claiming with the support of the United States on the role of regional leader, Hungary and Slovakia, where Russia sees a counterweight to the Polish domination, and the divided country in which there are “frozen conflicts” – Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. This include Turkey, strategically closing the passage from the Black to the Mediterranean sea.

Since about 1995, American experts developed a new concept of deterrence of Russia and China. We still represent a curb on the patterns of the cold war: hostage-taking of strategic objects of the opponent in order to force him to perform certain actions. But the Americans back to an earlier version of deterrence, which in English is called containment: the blocking effect of the opponent of the USA in certain territorial boundaries. For this you need to create along the borders of an opponent of America (Russia or China) belt of hostile countries. Elites of these countries must reject the country itself, to provide its territory for military bases, to escalate tensions on the borders, and, if necessary, to provoke a military crisis, putting your opponent Washington in an awkward position. The objective of these countries to block and weaken the resources of the opponent of the United States.

However, not every country will go to the centre’s role of containment. Such a partner should have a relatively strong power potential, the diplomatic resources in regional politics, tradition, historical enmity with Russia or China, it is desirable and territorial claims to them. Poland, the Baltic countries, Georgia, Ukraine this role is not suitable: too obvious outcome of any conflict with Russia. Another thing Turkey, Sweden or Germany. These countries have serious military capabilities for the region; their economic resource is undoubtedly higher than in Romania or Lithuania. They have a stable historical tradition of conflict with Russia. And they have the US strategic position, able to create Russia a serious problem: Turkey is the black sea Straits, Sweden is the exit from the Gulf of Finland, while Germany is the export of Russian gas to the EU.

If necessary, Russia can throw diplomatic crises, and in extreme cases military and political conflicts with these countries: in Washington believe that in the course of such a hypothetical collision Russia will not agree to the use of nuclear weapons. But local collision Moscow with the armed forces of these countries in certain “hot spot” may occur.

American diplomacy is trying to create two cordons to contain Russia. First – the countries that valuable territory and diplomatic resource, such as Poland, the Baltic States, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Romania. The second is a regional power, bearing the main function of deterring Russia: Sweden, Germany, Turkey.

OPINION: it has been said that the increase of NATO troops in Poland and other countries close to Russia would actually minor. Why is he given so much importance?

A. F.: For the past two years, the United States is actively shaping a new balance of power in the intermarum. The important thing for Americans is not a specific number of brigades in Poland or Romania, and the creation of a new strategic balance.

The main objective is the final erosion of the Russian-German partnership. Germany is trying to turn into the leader of anti-Russian countries in Eastern Europe. Let me remind you that Germany is a country, the sovereignty of which is still limited by the Moscow Treaty of 1990, including the development of its armed forces. At the Munich conference 2014 the Americans are clearly given to understand that the United States agree to expand military autonomy of Germany in exchange for its transformation into America’s leading partner in Europe. The Hanover summit proved that the task of this partner is to lead a policy of containment of Russia. In the end it was the German unit will have to make a rotation on the territory of Eastern European members of NATO.

OPINION: with regard to the conflict of Russia and Turkey: what role it could play in the US?

A. F.: We often forget about the background of the Russian-Turkish conflict. Meanwhile, since the summit in Antalya in 2015, NATO discussed the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, which prevented the participation of Russia in antiterrorist operation. Then NATO began to probe the possibility of partial limits of the sky over Syria for the Russian aviation. First, followed by calls Turkey to stop the application of Russian air strikes on areas inhabited by Turkomans. And the Russian plane was shot down as a reserve for the introduction of such zones. In the future, Americans have widely discussed the possibility of the outbreak of the armed conflict between Russia and Turkey over the territory of a third state, where there are no guarantees of NATO.

The state Department welcomed the outbreak in February this year, consultations between Turkey and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine, seeing in them the possibility of re-establishing unit GUAM. Ideally, the goal of Turkey is to “seal” Russia in the Black sea. Hostile Russia and Turkey according to the plan will, as in the XIX century, it is pointless to waste their strength in fighting each other. A friendly Russia and Turkey is the opportunity for Russia to the Mediterranean sea. In Washington understand this well.

In the Baltic a similar role, apparently, given to Sweden. For the last three years in Russian-Swedish relations is a series of local military and political crises, and the logical conclusion would be a final rejection of Stockholm from the policy of neutrality with the signing of the agreement on the privileged partnership with NATO. The involvement of Sweden in a confrontation with Russia supposed to solve two problems of American diplomacy: the closure of the Gulf of Finland and the promotion of military ties between Sweden and the Baltic States.

OPINION: what is the level of the Russian position in these regions, both political and military-political? Will we be able to resist the strengthening of NATO in the black sea region and the Baltic?

A. F.: the position of Russia on the Baltic and the Black sea are different. In the black sea region, Moscow has achieved what never ceases to speak by the Americans. For many years we had only a small piece of the black sea coast from Anapa to Adler. Now Russia again is Crimea – a key position on the Black sea, plus a Treaty of Alliance with Abkhazia. The US objectives in the Black sea while the limited: save for the last major Ukraine port Odessa, and to strengthen Romania with its only port of Constanta. Hence the desire to create a counterweight to Russia in the form of Turkey, to push them into a major diplomatic confrontation on the Black sea.

In the Baltic sea, Russia’s position weaker. First, the Kaliningrad region is an enclave, separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania and Belarus. It is possible to maintain communications by sea. But it depends on the freedom of the Russian fleet from the Gulf of Finland, that is, from the position of Finland and Sweden. Secondly, Russia in the event of a crisis it will be difficult to stand up for the Russian population of Estonia and Latvia, as long as they are members of NATO. Thirdly, not everything is clear with Belarus’s attempts to arrange another Maidan there are likely to be. And Belarus is extremely important for the Baltic fleet, and Kaliningrad.

The Americans understand this, hence the decisions of the Wales NATO summit to deploy a rapid reaction force in the Baltic States. For Russia, a group of 10-30 thousand people is not dangerous, but it is dangerous for the Russian population of Estonia and Latvia. With this “shield”, their elite can try to solve the “Russian problem”. If Moscow wants to stand up, she lucidly explained that it would conflict with the whole of NATO. Here you have a diplomatic crisis for Russia: watch Russian persecution, not being able to do anything. This negative scenario, but to think about it is too.

The situation may become even worse than it was before 1939. Then Estonia and Finland was closed by the Authorities withdrawal from the Gulf of Finland. But the USSR did not have the Kaliningrad region, which is necessary to maintain the relationship. For Russia the crucial neutrality of Stockholm and Helsinki. That is really the question that should be solved at any cost. The struggle for the preservation of the neutrality of Finland, will apparently be Central to the regional policy.

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