Mittwoch, 7. Dezember 2011

Bringing out the Bear – Russia Is Getting Testy

Photo courtesy US Army on Flickr
Its always been the greatest nonsense issue around in international security politics. The fuss about NATO's missile defence project. Nobody with any clue on such matters seriously argues that the shield is or could be directed against Russia, but the Putin/Medvedev government likes to play the great fear card to help its citizens rally around the Russian flag whilst ignoring the incompetence, corruption and dismal record of its leaders. So today, SPIEGEL reported that Russia is moving air defence missiles to its border with NATO to maintain a strategic balance, whatever sort of balance they are referring to I do not know, since NATO countries all cut their defence budgets while Russia is actually increasing its own but, you know, anyway. This latest move, however, is not an isolated step toward escalation. In fact, two developments have spurred the escalation in recent months. What most papers, the SPIEGEL included, completely failed to report is that after years of restraint, Russia has again started to refer to the Baltic states as having entered the Soviet Union voluntarily, which obviously these nations take issue with. Dimitrij Rogosin, the Russian ambassador to NATO and among the leading candidates to become the next Russian defence minister, has also made comments in that direction. Interestingly enough, this time the Baltic states refrained from turning it into a larger issue and responded relatively low-key to this sort of falsification of history. The second development is perhaps even more important. Russia has suspended the CFE-treaty in 2007 (that is the Conventional Forces Europe treaty). The treaty originally stipulated a Russian withdrawal from Moldova and Georgia, which Russia of course always declined to do. For years, NATO harboured hopes that Russia would return to the CFE, but after four years NATO, Georgia and Azerbaijan all suspended the CFE as well during the past two weeks. Fact is that the relations between Russia and NATO have hit a new low and for the moment Russia has largely domestic motives for keeping them there.

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