In a recent Spiegel interview SergejKaraganov, an influential advisor of the “Kremlin Council on Foreign and Defense policy”, warned about NATO’s new militaryplans for Eastern Europe (Spiegel 28/2016). The propaganda which is used by NATO against Russia was qualified by him as “reminiscent”of a “pre-war period”.The West is just “demonizing” Russia by accusing it that it plans a “new aggression”. “NATO is right now 800 km nearer to the Russian border, the weapons are different from ( the seventies and 80ies ) the strategic stability in Europeis changing. All this is by far worse than 30 or 40 years ago”,Karaganov said. He emphasized that Russia is global power and that it wants to be the center of a great Eurasia, a zone of peace and stability, to which also the European subcontinent belongs. What NATO does for the Baltic States, he qualified as “provocation” and if NATO were to start “an aggression against a nuclear power like us- it will be punished.” He further criticized that Russians and Germans during the last 25 years missed the chance to seriously discuss about their value system nor did they try to understand each other, while at the same time the Russian elite failed to have a clear political strategy for its neighboring countries, thus being incapable to prevent the conflict in Ukraine and that Russian policy was for too long fixated on correcting the past. He underlined that Russia, being an Eurasian power should however not turn away from Europe.“We must look for new ways to revive our relations.”
The recent NATO summit in Warsaw(July 8/9th) ended with a final communique that putthe main focus on Russia, that is actually portrayed as one of NATO’s key adversaries.The reason given by NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg during a NATO press conferenceis Russia’s new “assertiveness” and its attempt to willfully change the “security environment” in Europe.
The 139 paragraph long final communique is using an extremely “aggressive”language accusing Russia as “the main responsible for the creation of an(5) “arc of insecurity and instability along NATO’s periphery and beyond.”The threat for the Alliance as the document states, come from “a range of security challenges and threats that originate both from the east and from the south; from state and non–state actors; from military forces and from terrorist,cyber and hybrid attacks. Russia’s aggressive actions, include provocative military activities in the periphery of NATO territory and its demonstrated willingness to attain its political goals by the threat and use of force, are a source of regional instability, fundamentally challenge the Alliance, have damaged Euro-Atlantic security and threaten our long standing goal of a Europe whole, free and at peace.”The document further underlines that NATO’s security is “also deeply affected by the security situation in the Middle East and North Africa, which has deteriorated significantly across the whole region.Terrorism, particularly as perpetrated by the so called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Da’esh, has risen to an unprecedented level of intensity, reaches into all of Allied territory, and now represents an immediate and direct threat to our nations and their international community.Instability in the Middle East and North Africa also contributes to the refugee and migrant crisis.”
Failed putsch attempt in NATO member Turkey – one week after summit
A week after the NATO summit in Warsaw, which was attended by heads of states, defense ministers and foreign ministers as well as the leading representatives from the EU and high level military representatives from 28 NATO countries(a special guest being President Poroschenko from Ukraine), an attempted, but failed military putsch was carried out in the Turkish capital Ankara and in Istanbul. The putsch which occurred in the night of July15th to 16th, within hours got clamped down by the Erdogan government with a counter-putsch. It has led so far to the arrest of 7500 soldiers, 750 judges, state attorneys and police as well as the removal of 13000 state officials from their posts. A purge has also been made against additional 15.000 officials from the Education ministry. President Erdogan has in a reflex- like mode accused his political enemy, the preacher FethullaGülen, who lives in exile in the US, for having been a key string puller behind the putsch. He has demanded his extradition from the US and threatened to apply the death penalty against the putsch insurgents which is however conditional on a mandate given by the Turkish parliament.
The putsch attempt, whose circumstances still have to be clarified, was qualified by the Mideast expert of FAZ Rainer Herrmann, as quite “amateurish”. Other strategic observers, like Bernd Kohler from FAZ noted that Erdogan could not have possibly carried out such a broad purge within days, if there would not have existed a list long before.The Turkish events have sent a shock wave throughout Europe, since the entire Mideast and security policy of Europe is endangered. Turkey represents NATO’s most vital Southeastern flank, having command over the second largest army in NATO (after the US, 600 000 Armed Forces); it is NATO’s guardian at the Bosporus, neighboring to the Black Sea, and plays a significant strategic role as “buffer” in the war zones in Syria and Iraq(Kohler FAZ 19th) . Given the unpredictability of unfolding events the Turkish situation is becoming a further “security dilemma” at NATO’s Southeastern flank.
Ballistic Defense Missile Plan for Turkey
Major attention is given in the NATO document to the issue of “Ballistic Missile Defense”, which a German senior military observer correctly identified as an outright provocation against Russia. As Paragraph (57) states: “At our Summit in Chicago in 2012 we declared the achievement of interim NATO BMD Capability an operationally significant first step .At the Wales summit (2014 previous to Warsaw E.H.) we welcomed the forward deployment of BMD capable Aegis ships to Rota, Spain, that could be made available to NATO. Today a new milestone in the development of NATO BMD has been reached and we are pleased to declare the achievement of the NATO BMD Initial operational Capability. This is a significant step toward the aim of NATO BMD that offers a stronger capability to defend our populations, territory and forces across southern NATO Europe against a potential ballistic missile attack. The Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, Romania, represents a significant portion of this increase in capability, and the command and control (C2) of the Aegis Ashore site is being transferred to NATO .We also welcome that Turkey hosts a forward based early warning BMD radar at Kürecik and that Poland will be hosting an Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo military base.”
NATO summit final communiqué
A closer look at the final document makes clear that it intends to blame solely Russia for the present strategic situation in Europe. According to paragraph 17 “Russia bears full responsibility for the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula, in particular the discrimination against the Crimean Tatars and other members of thelocal communities…We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide ranging military build -up in Crimea and are concerned by Russia’s efforts and stated plans for further military build- up in the Black Sea region.”As signatory of the Minsk agreement, Russia according to paragraph (19) is accused to bear the significant responsibility in respect to Ukraine. “Russia continues its deliberate destabilization of eastern Ukraine in violation of international law…We are extremely concerned by the destabilization and deteriorating security situation in eastern Ukraine. We call on Russia to desist from aggressive actions and to use its considerable influence over the militants to meet their commitments in full, especially to allow for the observation of the ceasefire regime, implementation of confidence building measures and disarmament.”
Among the most important military measures decided by NATO are:
* An enhanced NATO response force (NRF); a new “Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) that is able to begin deployment within two to three days, as well as the decision(40) *“to establish an enhanced forward presence in Estonia,Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to unambiguously demonstrate, as part of our overall posture, Allies’ solidarity, determination and ability to act by triggering an immediate Allied response to any aggression.Beginning in early 2017 an enhanced forward presence will comprise multinational forces provided by framework nations and other contributing Allies on avoluntary,sustainable and rotational basis.They will be based on four battalion sized battle groups that can operate in concert with national forces, present at all times in these countries, underpinned by a viable reinforcement strategy.We welcome the offers of Canada,Germany, the United Kingdom and the United State toserve as framework nations for the robust multinational presence in Latvia,Lithuania,Estonia and Poland respectively.”
The communique lists in addition those countries which NATO would like to see in the future as new members: These include Montenegro,which in May 2016 signed an accession Protocol with NATO. It also appeals to Georgia, the former Jugoslav Republic of Macedonia and of Bosnia-Hercegovina, to continue implement the necessary reforms and decision to prepare for membership. NATO –Ukraine cooperation is hailed as “an important part of the Alliance’s contribution to the international community‘s efforts to project stability in the Euro-Atlantic Area and beyond.”
Since 2014: NATO- Russia Council meets only for a second time
Following the NATO summit, on July 13th,the NATO- Russia Council which since the Ukraine conflict has been de facto put on ice, met for the second time since 2014.The meeting took place on the level of ambassadors and despite the fact that not much came out, the significance was, that it did take place and that it was decided to have a next meeting in September this year.In an interview given by Alexander Rahr,Research director of the German Russian Forum, to Valdai News,Rahrurged that the NATO – Russia Council must become a “functional body”,so that Russia is taken seriously and could communicate with each NATO member states “individually”.In recent years NATO countries talked with Moscow with already negotiated united position.He advised that NATO and Russia, in order to rebuild confidence,should focus on areas where cooperation was successful to restore confidence. One sure area is Afghanistan.
Russian ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko warnings
Paul Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest(US) toldValdai news in another interview that there is “a classical security dilemma situation” created by NATO. While NATO’s new troop deployments near Russia aim to create a “tripwire” deterrent to reassure the Baltic states,at the same time, according to Saunders, they create a “security dilemma”,as Russia feels pressure to do the same. A typical example he gave is Poland which, when President Bush offered it to install Ballistic Missile defense,was thinking that it was potentially provocative and that it might create more security risks for Poland, which has changed however in the meantime. During a press conference given by Russian NATO Ambassador Alexander Grushko in Brussels after the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, the Ambassador- while underlining that a “frank discussion”had taken place during the NATO-Russia Council, stated that inrespect to NATO’smeasures “we believe these measures are superfluous, counterproductive, confrontationist and essentially weakening pan-European and regional security, which is bringing us back to the safety modes of the Cold War era.”
Grushko further stated that “the danger lies in the fact that today confrontationist policy which is built on the basis of the mythical threat from Russia, takes the form of military planning and military preparations at our borders.In fact the Eastern European members of the alliance who declared themselves the frontline, become a springboard for military deployments and the provision of military and political pressure on Russia.”He strongly warned about the “missile defense”and its “destabilizing effect”while stating that the only way “to stabilize the situation is through freeze of the NATO military buildup near the Russian borders, the reduction of military activity, followed by the pullout of deployments units to their permanent bases.”Russia is ready to continue dialogue and to work on bilateral basis in the NATO-Russia Council, Grushko noted, and with respect to Afghanistan he underlined, thatour assessments here do coincide,while nuances may be different. During the question and answer period the ambassador reiterated that there is “no logic” behind NATO’s plans and that Russia can’t disregard the new reality presented by NATO and its plans, including Missile defense: “We adapt to the change in the environment”, Grushko stated . He urged that the lessons should be drawn fromthe Cold War: Only a common vision ofan undivided Europe fromLisbon to Vladivostok could get the situation under control.