MOSCOW, 20 Dec 2021, RUSSTRAT Institute.
After the Russian Foreign Ministry published a draft agreement on measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation and the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a curious paradox was highlighted. Let us recall two important points of this agreement.
Article 4 states that “the Russian Federation and all Participants who were Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as of May 27, 1997, respectively, do not deploy their armed forces and weapons on the territory of all other European States in addition to the forces stationed on this territory as of May 27, 1997.” And article 7 prescribes that “Participants who are Member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation refuse to conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine, as well as other states of Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia.”
At the time of May 1997, NATO did not include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic found themselves in the North Atlantic Alliance only in 1999. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – in 2005. Croatia and Albania – in 2009. Montenegro – in 2017 and Northern Macedonia – in 2020.
Thus, the Moscow initiative, in addition to the post-Soviet space, covers a wide range of countries located between Western Europe and Russia. At the same time, it is mainly aimed at Poland and the Baltic states, which became the location of additional forces of the North Atlantic Alliance following the results of the Warsaw NATO Summit 2016.
Back then the alliance members agreed that a British battalion would appear in Estonia, a Canadian battalion in Latvia, a German battalion in Lithuania, and an American battalion in Poland. Later, Warsaw agreed with Washington to expand the American contingent in the country. In August 2020, the parties signed an agreement on the basis of which, if necessary, about 20,000 American soldiers will be deployed in Poland (there are 24,000 of them in neighbouring Germany). In the event of an agreement on security measures between the Russian Federation and the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with the preservation of Article 4, US troops will have to leave Poland.
Warsaw understands this, which is why it is most nervous. Russian initiatives there have already been dubbed “neo-imperial rudeness of the Kremlin” and an attempt by “Moscow to limit Polish sovereignty”. Radical calls are being made, for example, to urgently start political consultations with Romania, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states, Slovakia, Bulgaria and all other “new” NATO member states in order to jointly expel Russian ambassadors and formally lower the rank of diplomatic relations with it. And there is “nothing to talk about” with Moscow itself.
It is clear that such a step will hit the interests of the “core” of the European Union, which does not share such Russophobic and anti-Russian sentiments. However, the EU behaves mysteriously. If Washington is holding constant consultations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe these days, informing them about the progress of negotiations with Russia, then Brussels prefers to remain silent for the time being.
Perhaps because the “core” of the European Union is aware of the inevitable departure of Americans from Central and Eastern Europe and does not want to interfere with this. Washington is concentrating its forces on China, forming new defence alliances from reliable and proven Anglo-Saxon partners, creating the geopolitical space of the Indo-Pacific region, where it is searching for promising allies, pulling them into its anti-Chinese coalition.
It is clear that the United States sees the “Young Europeans” in this situation as a resource-consuming liability, not an asset. After all, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe will not send their own soldiers to the Indo-Pacific front, and they do not have aircraft carriers. However, Americans can’t just leave, they need to find a “convincing reason” first.
Washington can, for example, explain to the “Young Europeans” that the absence of an agreement with Russia on Ukraine can provoke the collapse of Ukrainian statehood, which is likely to be accompanied by armed conflicts not only in the eastern part of this country, but also throughout its entire length. And this will cause a serious migration crisis.
It is precisely the states of Central and Eastern Europe that will be the first to take its blow on themselves, repeating the fate of southern European countries that previously faced the flows of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa who entered the EU by sea. And no American military will help the “Young Europeans” cope with the waves of Ukrainian migrants. Therefore, it is better for the United States to find agreement with Moscow, at the same time shifting the problems of ensuring the security of Central and Eastern Europe to the “core” of the European Union, the same France and Germany, which are just in favour of the “strategic autonomy” of the EU.
Of course, Poland and the Baltic states will be unhappy. But they are likely to be the only ones who will oppose the withdrawal of Americans from Central and Eastern Europe. After all, the rest of the “Young Europeans” are guided by the position of the “core” of the European Union, and they do not have stable anti-Russian complexes.