12 Jan. 2022 15:56 clock
The positions are irreconcilable, mutual displeasure is great. The conversation takes place although Russia is “cheeky” from the western point of view with its demands for a reversal of NATO’s eastward expansion. It could become the biggest diplomatic event of the decade.
An analysis by Wladislaw Sankin
“At the end of 2021, Russia succeeded in taking the initiative in the debate on the future of the European security system. The talks that had begun on the creation of an integrative and stable order could be one of the greatest diplomatic events of the decade.”
Analysts from the Russian diplomatic school MGIMO assess Russia’s diplomatic advance on questions of NATO’s eastward expansion and European security (excerpt from the presentation of the annual MGIMO forecast “International Threats 2022” at TASS). Also the traditionally critical of Russia DOES had to acknowledge that Russia has managed, with minimal effort, to “initiate talks of this magnitude”.
It is not surprising. Because it is about Fyodor Lukyanov, the chief editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs, to say it is an attempt to resolve the most fundamental questions of European security since the negotiations on Germany’s reunification. Moscow is questioning the principles and, above all, the central role of Euro-Atlantic institutions such as NATO.
That is why the sides have hardly converged in their positions so far, because above all what has been an irrefutable axiom for the West for thirty years is practically overturned by Russia with the stroke of a pen. According to Lukjankov’s analysis, the positions are inconsistent on at least two levels.
First, in the United States, and therefore in the West as a whole, it is said that the negotiations are about Ukraine. As a result, the meeting would be about preventing an allegedly imminent Russian invasion of that country. The western media portray the situation almost without exception. This is also borne out by the questions put by the foreign correspondents to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov during the press conference after talks between the Russian and US delegations in Geneva on January 10th.
For Russia, however, this process is not about the Ukrainian question as such, but about the principles of European security, about the revision of what has become a fact since the Cold War, namely the advance of the western military infrastructure on Russia’s border. This ultimately led to the confrontation that led to the Ukraine conflict.
Second, the Americans are ready to talk about problems of a technical nature, as we have known from conventional arms control since the Cold War – where what restrictions can be agreed upon on the use of certain types of units and equipment. This is also shown by the reporting, which likes to portray the talks that have begun as disarmament negotiations.
Russia sees this as the other side’s means of ruining the discussion of the fundamental questions. Russian demands are political negotiations on strategy and the basis of relations. Smaller corrections in this order would not solve the main problem, only make it worse. “Moscow’s loud and uncompromising stance is probably a means of preventing this very technocratization of the negotiations and keeping them in the political arena.” The demands of Russia are no menu in the restaurant where you can choose your favorite dish, warned Ryabkov in December. Even then, he saw through the possible maneuvers on the other side.
“The gap in perception is so great that a new and sufficiently dangerous escalation may be needed to force the parties to really look for original forms of agreement”, concludes Lukyanov.
The chief editor of the portalRubaltics and connoisseur of the Baltic region Alexander Nossowitsch said in an interview with RT DE, that the Baltic States could in a very short time become an area of tension between Russia and NATO. For Russia, the military development in this region towards an anti-Russian Platzgut is just as unacceptable as in the Ukraine. “Both the Baltic States and Ukraine border the central regions of Russia. In any case, the flight time to Moscow and St. Petersburg is only a few minutes.”
According to him, the hope of de-escalation through negotiations is becoming increasingly remote because of the extremely anti-Russian stance of states such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. He points out that the infrastructure for military logistics in the Baltic region has been significantly expanded in recent years, which makes the stationing of much larger military contingents possible. The Baltic States could soon become the scene of a clash between the two major nuclear powers – provided the US moves a powerful offensive force to Russia’s northwestern borders in order to improve its negotiating position.
“The accumulated web of contradictions can only be resolved in two ways: through negotiations or through a full-blown military crisis. The escalation course that the Eastern Europeans are currently pursuing will ultimately lead to a new version of the Caribbean crisis, which will break out precisely on their territory,” concludes Nossovich in an analysis published in December.
Let us be clear: Russia uncompromisingly demands that NATO not be enlarged, the USA and its allies unequivocally reject this option. It is very likely that this will also apply to today’s NATO-Russia meeting in Brussels. However, Russia is pushing for a quick fix. If you only listen to what is said in public and take it seriously, it makes no sense to waste even more time in fruitless negotiations.
Nevertheless, the parties conduct these negotiations and praise them as “professional”. That could be a sign that what you see on the surface as a diplomatic marathon is only the tip of the iceberg and that much has already been agreed through closed channels. After all, in addition to three talks between Biden and Putin, there have been enough contacts between the Russian and US military in recent months.
In this constellation, the US would have to irreversibly weaken its position vis-à-vis Russia. As we know Russian foreign policy, it is anything but adventurous; it only becomes active when it is certain of success in the desired positions. Without guarantees from the other side, Russia would be very unlikely to get involved in such an uncompromisingly worded initiative.
The opinion in the US press is increasingly being heard that the US must take Russia’s security interests into account – above all to give Russia less reason to enter into the emerging military alliance with China against the West. There are even votes to give Ukraine and even the Baltic States a neutral status and to minimize the US presence in Eastern Europe in accordance with Russian demands.
The US needs a peace treaty with Russia – that is what Donald Trump was aiming for, and Joe Biden is now continuing this policy with his team. Various clans in the US leadership are preventing this process. In any case, it cannot be achieved with a foreign minister like Antony Blinken. That is why it was not he, but Deputy Foreign Minister Wendy Sherman who conducted the negotiations with the Russian side in Geneva. According to estimates by some experts, it could even soon become Blinken’s successor. Today’s meeting of the Russian delegation with NATO in Brussels, despite the “not a millimeter back” theatricality of the Eastern NATO countries, could be yet another event that prepares public opinion for future tectonic shifts in the European security architecture.
RT DE strives for a wide range of opinions. Guest contributions and opinion articles do not have to reflect the editorial team’s point of view.
more on the subject – Stoltenberg in the run-up to the talks with Russia: “NATO is ready for a new conflict in Europe”