Ukraine caught in cross-fire as Russia-NATO cooperation curtailed

Mykola Malomuzh
13:40, 17 April 2019
Politics
1623 0
Opinion

Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Grushko said Russia and NATO had completely ceased both civil and military cooperation. Until now, Russia had actually been in active contact with NATO. They had their strong representative office, which is still in place. In particular, in the mid-2000s, cooperation between Russia and NATO was ongoing within 11 programs dealing with the security sector, anti-terrorism, joint operations, civil control, joint exercises, and so on.

Following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the beginning of the war in Donbas, the wars in Syria and other regions of the world, the geopolitical interests of Russia and NATO went astray

Following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the beginning of the war in Donbas, the wars in Syria and other regions of the world, the geopolitical interests of Russia and NATO went astray. And the Alliance, which previously took the position that dialogue and developing cooperation with Russia were needed, significantly changed its stance over Russia's aggressive actions, its military operations, seizure of territories, and the conduct of special operations in various parts of the world. NATO's position has become tougher, and most of the cooperation programs with the Russian Federation are indeed being curtailed.

This position on Russia was once again confirmed at the latest NATO Summit held a month ago: cooperation with the Russian Federation is ceasing on all major security, military and civil programs.

This is a clear signal that the Russian Federation is no longer perceived as a partner. From now, NATO sees Russia as a threat. Both NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller spoke about this.

However, deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mr Grushko, has repeatedly stated and once again confirmed that Russia is curtailing out programs with the Alliance, that is, they will not function at the official level.

Russia is no longer perceived as a partner

However, these programs of cooperation between Russia and NATO will simply be "frozen". And in a certain way, some elementary cooperation between the two parties will still be maintained. It will remain at the operational level to address key issues, particularly with regard to international extremism, terrorism and some others, related to settling acute problems in certain regions (for example, in Syria). With regard to the issues mentioned, the dialogue between the Alliance and Moscow will be maintained. That is, the official programs are being curtailed, while cooperation remains in place at the informal level.

Moreover, both Stoltenberg and other NATO officials said the Alliance was now stepping up efforts against the threat of Russia, but on the other hand, NATO was ready for further contacts with Russia to reduce the risks of global threats, to discuss specific problematic regions – Ukraine, Syria, Iran – so that these conflicts do not go into an active phase.

Russia will not be particularly concerned over ceasing cooperation with NATO. Although for global security it is important to remove tensions and prevent the deployment of the Cold War model. Therefore, in the context of preventing global confrontation and systemic contradictions, this topic is one of the most important ones today.

Besides, Russia will no longer have communication with representatives of the civilized world, because at all levels, the country no longer enjoys any trust. Reducing cooperation with NATO will affect Russia not only in the security format, but also in economic, financial and other areas. That is, there certainly will be negative consequences for Russia amid its extremely negative geopolitical perception by other countries. Accordingly, Russia is expected to face losses of economic and defense-related character. International cooperation had previously allowed Russia to have an exchange with NATO Allies, work out a new joint defense strategy, new technological developments in the defense and military spheres, which have now been completely curtailed.

So it's a tangible blow on Russia but, at the same time, it's not critical. Russia is now replacing this type of cooperation and shaping new defense and security models; they have alternative projects, for example those with BRICS, with China and other states.

However, an active worldwide process is underway of building-up of forces as an actual arms race has begun. Most countries are now increasing their military spending. In particular, the United States sharply raises the question of NATO Allies having to allocate at least 2% of GDP on security and defense rather than rely on the United States. The U.S. even threatens partners with demarches if they fail to raise spending.

Therefore, we're facing a new round of arms race, while certain shapes of the Cold War are already evident. This will especially affect regions with ongoing conflicts: Syria, Ukraine, etc. These countries will become a theater of NATO-Russia confrontation. For example, now, as NATO warships enter the Black Sea waters, Russian navy is out there, closely monitoring their advance. This is actually becoming a local model of confrontation. This is a "cold war" thing.

In a global context, this confrontation will be escalating further. And since nuclear powers are involved in the process, there are prerequisites for a nuclear-level face-off, which could lead to colossal global contradictions and problems.

Ukraine in this regard is in the epicenter of developments due to its unfortunate location right between Russia and NATO. It is now a "hot" spot with hostilities underway. So, any escalation will create additional risks for Ukraine.

On the one hand, NATO will support Ukraine (it is entirely in our interest), but on the other –NATO's further advance in the Black Sea or deployment of bases, for example, in Poland or the Baltic States will push Russia, as they say, to an "adequate response", And the Russian Federation will further boost its resources, too. As we see, Russia has already amassed on the border with Ukraine, the Baltic countries, and in the occupied Crimea its significant military forces. It is clear that this is a threat, including for Ukraine.

In this situation, Ukraine may find itself caught in the cross-fire of NATO-Russia stand-off. Besides, we already seeing a direct military confrontation on our territory.

Therefore, along with building up our defense capabilities, we must work out international mechanisms for resolving conflicts. Then, NATO, Russia, and Ukraine will be able to come up with a different model – not a confrontational one, but the one to protect global interests, in particular, to prevent global wars that, if they start, would pose a threat both to Russia, China, Europe, and the United States. This is the main interest of all countries: to prevent global war and the destruction of mankind.

It is therefore extremely important to resolve issues that may become a detonator for such tragic developments. First of all, it is Ukraine that could become such a detonator. Therefore, Ukrainian issues need to be solved not at the level of the Normandy Four, but at that of more global players, for example, the G20. I must recall the Helsinki Accords, which at one time provided for the creation of the new world order. A road map is needed to settle the war waged against Ukraine, but it should be created under the auspices of the leading world powers, not the contact group we have within the Minsk process (such a has proved to be fundamentally unable to solve pressing issues).

However, Ukraine is not the only possible detonator for a global conflict. There are many of them: it's Syria, Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and the Islamic State. In all of these "hot" spots, issues should be resolved by global players.

Army General Mykola Malomuzh is a former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine

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