Euro-Atlantic factor

Albert Dunn

Moscow is still going to persuade its partners in the OSCE to realize by means of this organization an ambitious reform of the system of international security.

Appearance in Washington of the new administration has agitated the hopes on softening confrontation with Moscow. In some political narrators’ opinion, the presidents Obama and Medvedev, both representing the first generation of politicians, developed after the Cold War, can manage to do what their predecessors did not. This optimism strengthened still more after a presentation of the US vice president Joe Bayden on recent Munich conference, where he stated that in Russian-American relations it came time to press the button "reset".

So it is expected that White House and Kremlin will get round the table soon and start discussing all discords in security sphere. One has to acknowledge that existing contradictions are multiple, complex and interconnected. The most serious of them are:

  • frozen dialogue on new agreement on further reduction and restriction of the strategic offensive arms (START-2) while duration of the previous agreement START-1 (signed in 1991) expires already at December of the present year;
  • a categorical unacceptance by Moscow of the previous Washington administration’s plans to accommodate the elements of the third positional region of the American anti-ballistic missile defense in East European states;
  • further expansion of the North Atlantic alliance enlargement by joining it Ukraine and Georgia;
  • actual incorporation by Russia of two parts of the Georgian territory – Abkhazia and South Ossetia;
  • Iranian nuclear program;
  • presence of the West (and mainly United States) in Central Asia.

Let us consider the prospects of their solution.
Agreement START-2

Just after his accession to the office Barack Obama has offered Russia to conduct the negotiations on strategic arms in order to reduce the nuclear arsenals of each of the two countries on 80 percent – to a thousand of units. Since this proposal still was not made officially, only commentaries by different politicians and analytics have followed from the Russian side. As a whole sense they were boiled down to that though the idea itself deserves attention, a huge amount of all kinds of accompanying circumstances exists, that complicates the situation.

As for the readiness of Moscow to make this step, it causes great doubts. In the opinion of Russian experts, having on arms only one thousand warheads, Russia will not be able to realize nuclear deterrence of the United States. Moreover, it can turn out to be unarmed in front of China. The Chinese nuclear power is based on the intermediate- and small-range missiles Dong Feng, range of which does not exceed 600 kilometers but it is enough to reach Russia’s territory. After making proposed reductions Moscow will lose the possibility to inflict China an “irreversible damage” and, consequently, to provide nuclear deterrence of Beijing. And overwhelming superiority of Chinese in manpower along with the low sensitivity of the Chinese army to human losses can impel the Celestial Empire to try to solve all territorial problems with Russia in a military way.

Nevertheless Moscow will probably agree to start the negotiations but most certainly it will try to combine them with other problems – ABM defense in East Europe and entering Ukraine and Georgia to NATO. However, taking into account the aforementioned Chinese factor as well as current bad condition of Russian conventional forces, it is hard to expect that the agreement can be reached on the amounts offered by American side. Likelihood the final level turned to be two or three times higher.
ABM in East Europe

In spite of the fact that majority of leading Russian specialists have shown very persuasively that accommodation of elements of the third positional region of American ABM in the East European countries does not pose any threats to Russian nuclear potential, given item remains for the Kremlin to be one of the most painful. Honestly speaking, it is impossible to understand the reasons of such tenacity, one can only suppose that certain psychological anomaly takes place.

But, at all events, here Moscow will try to maintain the maximum resistance. One of its principal components will be a deployment Russian operative-tactical missile complexes "Iskander" in Kaliningrad region. As well known, it was already declared officially so there are no reasons to doubt in such intentions of the Russian authorities. Moreover, it is impossible to exclude completely the realization of similar action at the territory of the Republic Belarus though here, of course, the state’s foreign-policy situation will play a crucial role.

The other deal is that Russia can simply lack for it a purely technical potential. This suggestion is confirmed by the fact that even suspicion of possibility of revising these plans by new Washington administration has caused immediate Kremlin’s statement about its readiness to abandon own initiative. It is worth to recall that when during Soviet times Moscow became aware of its power, it did not retrace its steps so easily.
Extension NATO by joining Ukraine and Georgia

This is, probably, the second after American ABM the most problem of principle for Russia. As in previous case the objective analysis shows that it creates absolutely no threats for Moscow. However the reasons of these moods of the Russian authorities are rather clear.

First, they realize extremely well that joining NATO by any former Soviet republic definitively spells the death of its possible return under roof of the former parent state. However the fact that the largest part of today’s Russian society and majority of its elite, especially last time, feel the unbearable yearning for the lost status of great power and dream of recovering the imperial greatness, does not cause nor the most slightest doubts. It seems just these moods correspond a primary cause of many Russian troubles.

Secondly, Russian leadership uses existing in great masses of population negative attitude to the North Atlantic alliance introduced by aggressive propaganda as far back as in the Soviet Union. It knows perfectly well that presence of an external enemy allows it to inspire its people that this is a reason of all internal muddles, as well as to require from them increased patience and refusal of mass expressions of discontent.

Therefore in the foreseeable future it is impossible to expect that Kremlin will renounce such strategies. Rather for strengthening existing tensions it can use even more serious provocations. In the event of Ukraine, for instance, further attempts to destabilize situation in Sevastopol and around Black Sea navy look quite real. Regrettably, Moscow has at its disposal enough facilities for this.
Situation around Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Just these Georgian regions represent the demonstrable evidence of Russian strategy considered in previous section. It is absolutely obviously that Moscow on no consideration is going to leave these practically annexed territories in order to render political and military pressure on Tbilisi. Besides, Abkhazia is important as a supplier of building materials for coming Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi.

So Russian military bases are already built and, to all appearances, will continue to be created there. In particular, relocation of part of the Black Sea navy to Ochamchira is possible. In the case of escalation of the situation it is impossible to exclude the attempt to occupy the remaining part of Georgia in order to establish there pro-Russian regime.

Russia is the state to which crisis or even war between West and Iran will play into the hands of. The result of such conflict will be that America got stuck more in Afghanistan and Iraq, the crisis in relations between USA and Europe will arise, China be weakened by growing prices on energy carriers. But, certainly, the most important thing will be the immediate has stupendous jump of the oil prices. And on the contrary, from geopolitical point of view Moscow will be damaged by improvement of the relations between USA and Iran, in particular, due to reduction of European dependence on Russian gas.

Therefore it would be extremely naive to reckon that Russia will make a contribution in solving the Iranian problem. Moreover should in the near future in the Middle East region will happen something that blasts the situation, it is urgently recommended to seek attentively for Moscow trace.

Sometimes a sensation appears that Russian authorities are ready to harm themselves but to deliver some troubles to the West. It is hard to believe that they can not understand that NATO (that is to say, mainly United States) in Afghanistan do instead of them dirty work fighting with Islamic movement "Taliban". Otherwise they had to make this job themselves for maintaining the stability at their own south border, as several years ago, rendering large scale assistance, including military one, to the post-Soviet countries in Central Asia.

But instead of administering the alliance at least logistical support, Moscow tries to put grit in its machine. The obvious example became the recent Kyrgyzstan demand to close the American base in airport "Manas", which to a considerable extent provided coalition troops with necessary equipment. Though formally this decision has been taken by Bishkek, no shade of doubt did appear that the Kremlin stood behind it.

True, Russia has then offered the United States its own facilities. So, apparently some understanding still exists, along with a desire to earn a little. But in whole there must not be illusions concerning Russian position on the region: Americans have nothing to do here. Accordingly, heaven and earth will be moved to achieve this goal.
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While estimating the perspectives of the Russian-American relations it is also necessary to bear in mind that anti-Americanism became, on essences, a basis of Russian foreign-policy propaganda. Russian leaders not only introduce in masses an image of satanic overseas state, a heart of the world evil, but also share it themselves. It is too valued and accustomed for the Kremlin in order it could refuse from it simply.

The most remarkable in this situation is that under all these, softly speaking, unfavorable circumstances Moscow is still going to persuade its partners in the OSCE to realize by means of this organization an ambitious reform of the system of international security. Judging by the intensity with which articles by the head of Russian foreign ministry Sergey Lavrov, pushing last year's initiative of Dmitri Medvedev, are published in the Western media, given idea, in spite of crisis, continues to agitate the wits of the Kremlin inhabitants.

Meanwhile until now nobody knows any its specifics – what, generally speaking, this system has to represent. Since from Moscow’s point of view the future security architecture must differ from existing one merely by absence of the Euro-Atlantic factor it is clear only that it attempts to drive a wedge between Europe and United Stares.

On our glance, all foregoing examples permit to confirm unambiguously that under existing cardinal contradictions neither new Washington administration, nor most European countries will make steps toward Moscow. And it is absolutely does not matter, what country will chair in the OSCE. Chairman-in-Office has only primary right to put on consideration one or another question, but for the rest it remains just an ordinary member.

For example, next year it will be Kazakhstan’s turn to take a chair, and due to its close relations to Russia one could expect that it will make certain attempts to move in this direction. However the consensus rule is still acting in the OSCE and it is impossible to imagine that no one Western state will vote against. All the more so it cannot happen under Lithuanian chairmanship which is the next one. Rather Russia itself will decide to leave the Organization though this step looks not very probable too.

Of course, one has to bear in mind that all these considerations were founded on the suggestion that in a whole the situation will be approximately as for today. It is impossible to exclude, however, that both continuing global economic and financial crisis and some unpredictable at the moment circumstances will introduce cardinal changes to the total arrangement of powers and, as effect, to the behavior of all acting persons.