The withdrawal of the Baltics from NATO is in the EU’s interests

MOSCOW, 14 Jan 2022, RUSSTRAT Institute.

A meeting of the ministers of defence and foreign affairs of European Union member states is taking place in Brest, France. It is stated that the EU “must determine concrete steps in response to Russia’s military buildup on the border with Ukraine,” but it’s not just about that.

On the eve of the summit, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, published an article in which he reacted to the Russian-American negotiations on the principles of the European security architecture. “Russia wants to present the European Union as irrelevant and is seeking a strategic split between the United States and Europe,” Borrell says. “She also wants us to agree that Moscow has a decisive influence on Ukraine and Belarus, not to mention Central Asia.”

According to the head of European diplomacy, these proposals are “clearly unacceptable”, but they still need to be discussed with Russia. His suggestion is as follows. At the meeting in Brest, the ministers must solve three tasks. The first is a return to the general principles of the security architecture, as “they follow from the Helsinki Charter, the Charter of Paris, the NATO-Russia agreement or the OSCE Vienna Document on Confidence-building Measures”.

The second is the creation of “a more effective crisis management mechanism in relations with Russia, an area in which the EU has extensive experience”. Third: the creation of “permanent and operational mechanisms for conflict prevention and confidence-building measures so that the behaviour of all parties is not misinterpreted, especially with regard to military manoeuvres”.

However, Borrell does not answer the question that follows logically from his reasoning: if the old mechanisms of the EU–Russia dialogue on the security architecture did not work, then why will the new ones succeed? The problem here is that the European Union is not able to speak with one voice, but stubbornly continues to cling to this unrealistic and unworkable idea. This is contrary to what European experts and analysts themselves write.

“The Americans and Russians are talking to each other about European security again,” one of the German publications notes. “But there is no EU as such, and the most agile among Europeans are looking for a folding chair, like in cinemas or public transport, according to Jean-Dominique Merchet, a well-known French journalist specialising in military issues and internal security. During the negotiations on Monday, January 10, between representatives of the United States and Russia, there was not even such a chair for the EU.”

Obviously, this is the fault of the European Union itself. There are forces in it that adhere to multidirectional vectors, and the EU itself is a geopolitical Push-Pull. The most important country interested in the strategic autonomy of the European Union, France, sees Europe’s interests in the south – the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East. Germany is more interested in moving to the east, where Berlin wants to simultaneously conduct dialogue with Russia and that Poland and the Baltic republics do not oppose it.

It is possible that Paris and Berlin could still agree and coordinate geopolitical priorities, then relaying them to the entire European Union. However, it is impossible to imagine that this will happen if we take into account the “concerns” of the Poles and Balts and their obsession with Russia. Although Western Europe still cannot understand why France and the Benelux countries opted for reconciliation with Germany and Italy, who attacked them 10 years after the last war, and the Baltic republics, where the Soviet “occupation” ended 30 years ago, are still hostile to Moscow.

Moreover, they claim to dictate to the EU and the US how they should deal with Russia. On the eve of the Brest summit, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, criticised Washington’s decision not to invite Tallinn to talks between Russia and the United States in Geneva. And then, in an interview with Reuters, she reported that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are asking NATO to increase the number of troops of the North Atlantic Alliance on their territory, seeing them as a “deterrent factor against the background of the Russian threat,” and are conducting appropriate negotiations on this topic.

But what exactly are the security challenges of the Baltic republics? Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko, at a briefing on the negotiations between Moscow and NATO, returned to the past and told how the situation was seen before Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined the alliance. Although at that time they did not actually have their own armed forces, at the same time there were no threats, the Russian diplomat noted.

“We had only two military issues in our relations with these countries,” Grushko continued. “This is military transit to Kaliningrad and the fate of military pensioners. No one knew about the Suwalki corridor or the transponder problem. No one said that they should be protected, that foreign forces should be deployed there. The situation changed dramatically after their accession to NATO, as a result of which this militarily calm region was turned into an arena of military rivalry.”

Thus, it is the North Atlantic Alliance (more precisely, the Americans who dominate it) that have created the main “security threats” that the European Union will now have to deal with. Therefore, the solution to the tasks outlined by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, among other things, should be the withdrawal of the Baltic states from NATO.

To begin with, the leading European countries could raise the question of disavowing the decisions of the Warsaw Summit of the alliance, held in 2016, when an agreement was reached to strengthen the so-called eastern flank of NATO. This resulted in the deployment of new multinational units on the basis of continuous rotation in 2017: Lithuania was secured by Germany, Latvia – Canada, Estonia – Great Britain, Poland – the USA.

Starting with this, the EU and Russia will have a good opportunity to continue dialogue on the architecture of European security in general. But is the European Union capable of such a thing? If not, then its fate will be discussed without it.

Institute for International Political and Economic Strategies – RUSSTRAT

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