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What could happen in Ukraine? Ukraine could join NATO after becoming a member of European Union, but Sevastopol and the Black Sea are important locations for the Russian military. At present, Russia and US relations are at their lowest point for a generation, with some people talking about a new Cold War.

Russian Foreign policy and its behaviour will be tied to these following factors: the future behaviour of Iran, Syria, Ukraine and counterterrorism. In addition, NATO’s behaviour by 2020, 2030, will prove very to be very significant.

We have to bear in mind which options we are in favour of. This question can be summed up as guns versus butter. An increase military expenses will lead to more militarisation, while ‘butter’ denotes spending more on the population of our society.

After the reunification of Germany in 1989, the status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as necessary to Europe’s security was placed in doubt, as Germany had become a powerful nation once again.

If we look into NATO’s staff, we see that all of its Secretary Generals were and are Americans. This is a big mistake, because NATO operates across European lands and the US cannot command a European “military”. When we are talking about the military, we have to take it rhetorically in regard to politics and the military. A very important principle in international relations is that politics comes first, followed by military matters. We have to speak politically first and military second; NATO’s purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. The second mistake in NATO is that it is too traditional, not having undergone any reforms. Thirdly, NATO is moving to transition to a more political organisation. Fourthly, we have seen NATO behaving as a global actor, involved for example in Afghanistan, Iraq and some other military missions including Hurricane Katrina and currently, in the Russia-NATO relationship.

,,if you have hummer, everything looks like a nail”

Abraham Maslow

The first big modernisation of NATO occurred in Prague 2002 with the Prague Capabilities Commitment, in which NATO set up goals to be more realistic – the military budget declined because not every member of the organisation was in a position to buy military ships or expensive guns; from that year, annually, some members of NATO have been receiving military ships, guns etc. according to their needs.

The centre for NATO is located in Brussels where daily training events are held. This organisation has taken to responding with force beyond its zone of responsibility (e.g. Libya, 2011), and will have to learn from its mistakes. They also create cooperative security to enhance the welfare of their organisation, but this clearly involves politically steps. At present, they have great challenges in the Middle East. They are also utilising “smart defence”, which means using the same amount of money but receiving more.

In looking at the relationship between the Russian Federation and NATO, we have to analyse it from two different points of view. Firstly, there is the realist approach: NATO is a tool of US foreign policy and as such, any expansion of the organisation is an expansion of the US. If we look into the military budget of NATO, we see that most of the spending is from the United States. In addition, this organisation is still using the same tactics as against the Soviet Union to contain Russia. Furthermore, we can observe that NATO is seeking to expand into new territories which are rich in natural resources. Secondly, there is the liberal approach, which holds that NATO is a club of democratic states; they have a requirement that only democratic states can become members – but was Greece in the 1960s fully democratic state, or Albania after decades of dictatorships, and what about Turkey? We can see that there is no guarantee of democracy from becoming a member of NATO. Moreover, NATO and Russia share common strategic interests in the Mediterranean sea.

Before the Ukraine and Crimea conflicts, there were two main agreements in place between Russian and NATO: firstly, the Partnership for Peace in 1994 and secondly, the Founding Act signing and setting up a Permanent Join Council in 1997. The main points of the second agreement were, for example, that Russia and NATO did not look to each other as competitors, the negotiation table was created and confirmation from the NATO member states that they would not deploy any nuclear weapons on the territory of the new members. However, now we can talk about some negative consequences of this act, because Russia did not have any veto over decisions by NATO; all that Russia could do was merely express their opinions, and nothing more. In addition, we have to bear in mind that the Act is not a legally binding document. This Act did not specify the number of combat troops, and every state has different ideas about this. For Russia, a large army could mean 3 000 soldiers, while for the US it could be 20 000 soldiers; this means that in diplomacy, if we do not specify details in the pre-concluding phases, then the opposite side can bring them in at the end of agreement – as for example in the specified the number of combat troops. Moreover, in 2002, Russia participated in negotiations in the Council of NATO (this was directed at consultation and search for consensus, cooperation and joint-decision-making), but there was a problem. If Russia objected to something then other states simply said “we are going to do it with or without you” – but at least there was scope for discussion; nowadays, there are not any talks or negotiation tables.

,,The secret of politics? – Make a good treaty with Russia”

Otto von Bismarck

There are more agreements which have been frozen after the Ukraine conflict. Firstly, a project to train specialists to combat drugs in 2005, which was financed by NATO to provide specialists to fight against drug dealers in Afghanistan. Secondly, an action plan to fight against terrorists in 2004 has also been terminated by NATO as has cooperation against WMD (weapons of mass destruction).

After the war in Syria, 12 million people have been displaced and 4 million people are in various camps, so we will have to recreate these agreements with Russia. Today’s threats are more frequently arising owing to the disintegration of state power and the growing number of ungoverned territories. We see that if superpowers will not manage to find common ground, then small states will be more endangered as is Syria from Daesh (the radical Islamist terrorist group).

*Discussion with Professor Oleg Ivanov (Professor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian MFA) concerning Ukraine & NATO from an International Relations perspective, held at Moscow, Russian Federation and provided by the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia