Tuesday, August 5, 2014

5/8/2014: Two Maps, Two Roads Ahead... Choose Wisely...


In the context of often heard Russian grievances vis-a-vis Nato, here is a handy set of maps - via Der Spiegel:


And another map showing years of expansion:


With Nato forces fully controlling Skagerrak Strait and Sea of Marmara, Russia is de facto left landlocked on its South-Western and Western borders. With Nato previously implicitly acting as an anti-Russian alliance and now explicitly moving toward acting as a de jure and de facto containment mechanism against Russia, is anyone surprised Russia is not too keen on 'engaging' with the West and is rather re-orienting itself toward East?

After all, even its trade routes are now landlocked by the EU and Nato. EU forcing Russia to fund gas pipelines to which Russia subsequently is required to grant access for other suppliers shows that EU has no problem with distorting international trade to suit its own objectives.

Security-wise and trade-wise, isolation of Russia is not a solely self-inflicted wound. Rather, it is in part a logical outcome of the largely Eastern European hostility to Russia that has been allowed to dominate the EU and Nato policies since the late 1990s.

In my view, there is an urgent need to rethink Nato's role in Europe. One point of this exercise should be to strengthen sense of security within the alliance. Currently, a number of Eastern European member states express their concerns that Article 5 common defence clause is not enforceable. These fears should and can be alleviated. Another point is that Nato must act to reduce its adversarial position vis-a-vis Russia. Engagement, not containment; reform of Nato, not elbowing of Russia by courting Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan; recognition of mutual security interests (security of Eastern Europeans and security of Russians are not contradictory objectives, but complementary) not relentless push into Russian security space must be the main objectives.

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