Russia-NATO Update – October-November 2016

Russia-NATO Update is a new monthly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest news on Russia-NATO relations from the Russian and East European media.

MEMRI NATO GEOPOLITICAL

Twitter.com/sharzhipero, November 1

Quote Of The Month:   The US Is Still Practicing Containment

On November 8, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made the following remark at the opening of the Potsdam Meetings in Moscow.

“Shortly after Russia had embarked on a path of progressive development and overcome the 1990s crises, we ran into a new edition of the “policy of containment” directed against us. This policy also manifested itself in the coup and the violent seizure of power in Ukraine, which was supported by Washington and Brussels, and the introduction of unilateral sanctions against Russia. The US plans to deploy the European segment of the global missile defense system, and NATO’s actions to conduct an expedited militarization of Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries, and the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea are also part of that policy.”

(Mid.ru, November 8)

The Iskander-M Tactical Missile Systems In Kaliningrad

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6663, TheIskander-M Tactical Missile Systems In Kaliningrad — An Update, November 3, 2016.

Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6659,Ria Columnist: Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier Is Directed Against ‘The Terrorists More Technologically Advanced Puppet Masters [The West]’, November 1, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6655, The Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier – Mission And Goals (An Update), October 27, 2016.

Russia’s Drills

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6645, Preparation For A Military Clash – Russia’s Drills And Army Update – September-October 2016, October 14, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6648, Russia’s Drills Update, October 23, 2016

Interview Of The Month: The Standoff With Ukraine Will Continue

Moscow-based daily newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets published an interview with Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, focusing on Russia’s policy in Ukraine, among other subjects.

Q: “… I’d like to focus on Ukraine a little more. In  your opinion, what has Russia achieved playing in this field? And how may this game develop now?

Trenin:  “Russia had two goals in Ukraine. The ultimate goal is the inclusion of Ukraine into an integration process with Russia. In my opinion, there was no chance of implementing this plan, at least not with any advantage for Russia. Because all the Ukrainian elites – eastern, western, southern – realized that the Ukrainian political project could not be implemented in the context of integration with Russia.

“Russia is too appealing in every respect, from economics to culture. And close bonding with it would have made Ukraine part of this large ‘Russian world,’ a community with Russia at its center

“It was unacceptable for the Ukrainian elites; they wanted Ukraine to have a different path from that of Russia. “These sentiments were not considered seriously enough in Moscow.

“And if Ukraine had entered into integration with Russia, it would have received a veto power over the decisions of the Eurasian Union. And it would exercise this power every time to obtain new concessions from Moscow. Additionally, it would always blackmail Russia with the option of its [Ukraine’s] turning to the West. And, of course, in any case, there would be forces inside Ukraine that would clamor in favor of rethinking the integration policy.

“The more immediate goal was more realistic – not allowing Ukraine to join NATO. Here it was possible to achieve something. But nobody could provide any guarantees, because the US has favored Ukraine’s joining NATO since 2007-2008. This ambition caused serious tensions back then.

“And today there is an objective that can be achieved with the help of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics – to create internal obstacles for Ukraine’s NATO accession.

“To give constitutional guarantees that Ukraine won’t be able to apply for NATO membership if some regions are opposed. This, among other things, is the meaning of the Minsk agreements for Moscow.

“But at the moment, nobody is in a hurry to invite Ukraine to join. Even without NATO, it will remain the foreign state most hostile to Russia for many years. And nothing prevents it from concluding additional agreements with the US about the deployment of all kinds of weapons. You don’t have to be in NATO to do that.”

dimitri trenin
(Mk.ru, October 31) Dimitri Trenin (Source: Russia-direct.org)

Essay Of The Month: The New European Missile Crisis

Sergey Karaganov, advisor to Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration and dean of the elite Moscow college National Research University Higher School of Economics, wrote an article, titled “Missiles in Europe: Back to the Future?”

 In the article, Karaganov stated that new disarmament talks are hardly necessary between Russia and the West. “With the West continuing to dominate the information space, such talks would only be used even more actively than before for inciting greater mistrust and militarizing mentality in Europe,”

Below are excerpts from Karaganov’s article:

‘The Deployment Of Missile Defense Systems In Poland And Romania Looks Particularly Odd’

“When in the late 1970s and early 1980s our Western colleagues kept talking about the ‘Soviet military threat,’ I looked at them with suspicion: Are they being silly or simply lying? The decaying Soviet Union obviously could not, and did not intend to, attack anyone. When I came to know some of them better, I understood that they were mistaken after all. But when I hear about the ‘Russian military threat’ again now, this certainly is not a mistake any more but a deliberate and blatant lie, apparently told in a bid to restore structured confrontation. I regret to say, but forward deployment of weapons and missile defense systems and the stationing of troops (rotational for the time being) in Europe is almost overtly provocative.

“It is said they are being deployed there in order to calm down Russia’s neighbors frightened by its possible (but hardly imaginable) aggression. In actual fact, in a real armed conflict such weapons would only make the host countries more vulnerable. I don’t think NATO strategists really think that Russia would wait for its territory to be invaded. These weapons and troops will make everyone nervous—Russia, against which they have been deployed, and their host countries, which turn themselves into priority targets either through folly, or out of desire to take revenge for Moscow’s previous victories, or by order (or no one simply asks them as in the case of Romania). Core NATO members will also become more worried when they understand that the new weapons and troops increase the risk of war in Europe.

“The deployment of missile defense systems in Poland and Romania looks particularly odd. It is obviously prompted by the strong desire of a large segment of the American elite and society to have an illusion of strategic invulnerability, weaken the opponent along the way, and make their own defense industry happy. Initially, these plans were justified by theoretically plausible claims that Europeans needed to be protected from Iranian missiles. When Iran gave up its nuclear program, all decency was dropped. Now any reference to the Iranian threat looks brazenly false, inappropriate even for the West itself. And yet these arguments are replicated over and over again.

“Specialists say almost unanimously that if proper countermeasures are taken, missile defense systems cannot impair Russia’s strategic capabilities. But these systems and the inevitable countermeasures they provoke will increase military risks for the host countries, undermine strategic stability in Europe and the world, and provoke greater nervousness and mistrust.

sergey karaganov
Sergey Karaganov (Karaganov.ru)

“Experts and, most importantly, officials, who are responsible for the security of the country, including its president, say that antimissiles in these systems can easily be replaced with long-range cruise missiles the deployment of which in Europe is banned by the INF Treaty. If this is true, the United States is taking a big surreptitious step towards breaching the treaty, while at the same time throwing similar accusations at Russia.

“There are (or were) those in Russia who advocate secession from the treaty which is in fact quite inequitable. But Russia has never broken it. By placing missile defense systems in Europe, the West is sort of inviting Russia to withdraw from the treaty and deploy missiles that can destroy these systems almost instantly. This would complete the picture with a new edition of the missile crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s and a new round of structured military-political confrontation in Europe.

“The watershed would run closer to our borders. But a new confrontation by definition is more dangerous than the previous one and would provoke a hair-trigger reaction or counter-reaction from both sides. The Americans apparently hope to sit it out over the ocean. Continental Europe, crashed by the avalanche of insolvable internal problems, does not seem to be giving it a serious thought, just as it did not think about the consequences of its expansion to Ukraine two and a half or three years ago. On top of it all, there are pro-conflict forces and interests in Europe (as noted above).

“By essentially offering to resume military-political confrontation, Western partners want to make it more comfortable for themselves and tie Russia’s hands to prevent it from responding in a hard and risky way. This explains why the West constantly moots the possibility of resuming conventional weapons talks or confidence-building dialogue in its old format. I mentioned above the proposals to discuss nuclear weapons in Europe. I heard them many times while working in the OSCE Panel of Eminent Persons. Some of them resurfaced too.

“As a matter of fact, the results of Great Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union create an even greater uncertainty across the board and increase the likelihood of actions to distract attention from the EU crisis, increase the U.S. influence in Europe, and find a new topic for consolidation.

‘Old Recipes Are Used Again To Provoke Russia Into Confrontation And Arms Race In Europe’

“First of all, one must understand that the scenario I have described is quite realistic or is already in progress. Old recipes are used again to provoke Russia into confrontation and arms race in Europe.

“Second, we must make it clear to our European partners and their societies that the current, and previous, policy of NATO and the forces rallying around it is aimed directly at renewing military confrontation in Europe, and if it is realized, it will increase the risk of conflict immensely.

“Third, there is no need to repeat the folly of the late Soviet and early Russian periods when we wanted to please the West and hoped for an equal and stable security system and cooperation in Europe. An analogue of that policy today would be an attempt to resume relations with NATO in the old format. Russia’s weakness and attempts at appeasement helped turn the alliance from a predominantly defensive bloc, as it was during the Cold War, into an offensive one and the main factor of military and political instability in Europe.

The aggression against Yugoslavia and Libya, and the attack by the majority of U.S.-led NATO countries on Iraq created a new reality. It turned out that without strong external deterrence a defensive union of democratic states can easily degrade. Conclusions must be drawn. Russia should hardly try to legitimize the alliance through political dialogue with it in the Russia-NATO Council. But NATO is a real thing, and therefore it would be prudent to continue discussion with it in order to avoid an escalation of incidents and accidental clashes. But this discussion must be conducted by the General Staff and NATO’s Military Committee, by military specialists. Simultaneously, a broader dialogue, bilateral and multilateral, among experts as well, is needed to discuss the future of European security and ways to prevent its destabilization and degradation.

“Fourth, Russia should not respond to potential new missile and other challenges hastily or in kind. It should not secede from the INF Treaty, for this is exactly what the West expects it to do. In fact, Russia has already announced its countermeasures. It will deploy three divisions in the west of the country (Do we really need them there?) and create non-nuclear high-accuracy missile systems (which are quite expensive and can only benefit a richer country). It may get drawn into an arms race. I personally think that an exercise of Russia’s strategic forces to dispel all doubts about what may happen in the event of a crisis with new missiles/interceptor missiles would be enough.

“Fifth, there is the need for a broader security dialogue than the one within the old European framework. As long as we remain within it, the West cannot, and does not want to, give up the old system that reproduces confrontation. We must embark on a Eurasian cooperation, development and security dialogue, especially since the world has changed, including around Russia and Europe. The previous European-centric model looks almost like an anachronism, even for Europe which needs new cooperation horizons for development. China, Russia, and other Eastern and Central Eurasian countries can provide such opportunities. They will not challenge Europe’s Atlantic ties but will rather complement them.

“Sixth, new disarmament talks are hardly necessary. With the West continuing to dominate the information space, such talks would only be used even more actively than before for inciting greater mistrust and militarizing mentality in Europe. But as I have already said, there is the need for military-to-military dialogue.

“Seventh, the remaining potential of the OSCE must be fully tapped, while its third basket, which was used mainly for sustaining and encouraging confrontation, should be gradually ‘forgotten.’ The second—economic—basket is essentially dead. The Organization can be instrumental in settling crises similar to that in Ukraine and fostering joint responses to new security challenges like refugees, terrorism, migration, and cybercrimes.

“Eighth, and this is probably the main point, Russia should step up dialogue with the EU and its member countries to look for ways to restore and expand cultural, scientific and economic cooperation on a new realistic basis. The European Union is not a model any more, nor is it an adversary, but rather a good neighbor, a lucrative market and an equal partner with whom we share many interests and even basic values. Russia should probably think about a broader dialogue between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU on the way to a comprehensive trade and economic partnership in Eurasia. The Russian president spoke about the need for such a partnership at the 20th St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

“Finally, and most importantly, we Russians have lots of complaints to make to the West, and many are itching to keep responding to the full extent possible and showing it where it gets off. Russia, which has always treasured its two core values—sovereignty and security—apparently has an internal need for an external enemy. This need will grow stronger unless the country becomes ready to begin long overdue reforms.

“But one must remember that in the long run no one will benefit from confrontation, even less so Russia, which is not as strong and rich as the West and even if it can hold out and win tactical victories. It is vitally important to understand that if we allow Cold-War-era structured confrontation to resume, the planet will become a much more dangerous place than ever before. It is better to struggle for peace, provide security, including by preventing further expansion of Western alliances as we belatedly did in 2014, upset the plans of those who wish to renew the arms race and the systemic military-political conflict, and regain leadership in the efforts to ensure the supremacy of international law and strategic stability…”

(Globalaffairs.ru, September 25)

SOURCE: MEMRI

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