The West must not buckle under Russian threats, now or ever | View

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This week, the Russian Federation achieved its desired goal of holding talks with the United States, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on rebalancing Euro-Atlantic security. It achieved this goal by threatening to invade Ukraine again. Along the way, Moscow has managed to sideline the Normandy formula, which includes Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France and the European Union.

Russia’s success is expected given Western inclination to dialogue and the EU’s lack of cohesion, and its behavior follows a familiar and predictable pattern: Russia creates a crisis, makes a series of demands and then adjusts tensions to see if opportunities or concessions have arrived. If the concessions are enough, Russia ends the crisis and waits for the next opportunity to present itself.

This is not the first time that Russia has sought to use violence against its neighbors to advance its interests. In 2007, President Vladimir Putin used Munich Security Conference To demand changes in the global security system, including restrictions on the United States, NATO and the European Union, as well as changes in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Putin has publicly aired his complaints about limitations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which limits conventional military aggregates and deployments in Europe, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which abolished US and Soviet nuclear stockpiles. Short and medium-range nuclear-capable missiles.

After the now-famous Munich speech, Russia “suspended” its participation in the conventional armed forces of Europe, began violating the provisions of the Conventional Armed Forces Treaty and prepared to invade Georgia, the former Soviet state. The Kremlin then offered to resolve its self-created international crisis by offering talks on a draft European Security Treaty and a proposed NATO-Russia pact — both documents seeking to rewrite the basic principles that have guided relations across the Euro-Atlantic region since then. The Ten Commandments Helsinki 1975. Sound familiar?

In response to Russia’s provocative actions, we witnessed several years of intense diplomacy from 2007 to 2010. This awareness campaign included intense negotiations to resolve the impasse of conventional armed forces in Europe, the universalization of the Nuclear Weapons Treaty, and the extension of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) to Beyond its 2009 expiration. However, despite progress on some files, efforts in Geneva to expand the INF were met with indifference, and Russia increased pressure on Georgia by deploying tens of thousands of troops along the border and sending military engineers to Abkhazia. To measure the strength of bridges to support tank crossings.

The mutual attacks that followed led to the Russian invasion and partition of Georgia, the breakdown of talks on conventional armed forces in Europe and, eventually, the end of the brief diplomatic “reset” in relations with the West.

Back in 2013, Russia created another crisis in Ukraine, this time due to Kiev’s desire to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The conflict escalated dramatically when Russia’s favorite ruler, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the country and was replaced by a government allied with the West. Then Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, killing thousands of Ukrainians and destabilizing the Euro-Atlantic security system.

The Russian invasion came as a complete surprise to my colleagues at NATO headquarters, as I was assured that Russia would never harm its fellow Slavs, just as I was assured at the Pentagon in 2007 that Russia would never invade Georgia. Either way, the Kremlin sparked a crisis, took its seat in the peacemaking process — as the perpetrator and judge — and waited for the next set of opportunities to emerge.

Which brings us back to today, as Putin continues to anger over the rejection of his offer to “freeze” the deployment of ground-based missiles in Europe (which aims to prevent the West from deploying such missiles without verifiable restrictions on Russia). He initially stirred up tensions by Finishing its mission in NATO and the NATO mission in Moscow in October 2021, and then went so far as to stir up a months-long crisis with Ukraine, threatening invasion while demanding talks — first with the United States on a new security guarantees treaty, and later with NATO seeking to overlap demands to derail the alliance.

Moscow succeeded in forcing the United States and NATO to hold talks under pressure, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating, “We will firmly guarantee our security using the means we deem necessary.” It even followed the US-Russian talks in Geneva on January 10 with a live-fire exercise on the Ukrainian border, involving more battle tanks (300) than the entire German army (266). The display of military prowess sent a clear message that Russia will not de-escalate Without Western concessions, Quickly.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was resolute in rejecting the basis of Russia’s proposals to the United States and NATO, asserting Finland’s right to choose its own security arrangements as a sovereign nation, a fundamental right enshrined in the UN Charter. Niinistö was joined by Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde, who described Russia’s conditions as “amazing”.

The United States – while setting red lines including maintaining NATO’s open-door policy and refusing to negotiate its relations with Ukraine – He indicated that there are potential concessions On holding its military exercises, and asking Russia to hold talks on banning US land-based missiles in Europe. Both are a long-term goal of the Russian Federation and the agreement of the United States to discuss these issues has dismayed many allies.

Russia seeks to ban exercises along the line between Europe and Strengthening sphere of influence In the near abroad. NATO had previously rejected the Russian freeze decision due to a lack of clarity on the scope and extreme difficulties in verifying any such agreement. Is the United States now ready to compromise on these points?

This does not mean that I am against dialogue with Russia. It backed NATO’s calls for the first NATO-Russia Council more than two years ago, a format that Russia has rejected in the past. But in any talks with Russia, the West must be united and resolute in principle – rejecting demands for guarantees that would harm the sovereignty of nations – and in substance – and refusing to assert the existence of a Russian sphere of influence that would inevitably prevent Allied and military maneuvers. Cooperation with partners.

The United States should not give up its principles, allies, or partners in exchange for talks. The West must not succumb to Russian threats now or ever.

Written by William Alberkey is Director of Strategy, Technology, and Arms Control at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and former Director of the NATO Center for Nonproliferation, Disarmament and Weapons of Mass Destruction.


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