Overall, the recent revitalisation of world terrorism of radical Islamic influence is combined with Russia’s increased assertiveness to the overall system. If the priority theory in the US is that Putin-led Russia’s assertiveness is one of the main causes of the present fluidity of the international scene – from the Ukrainian crisis to the Syrian file – in Germany there is one more narration of the events and their causality. Here, one may identify not just the main feature of the Transatlantic crisis, but also the widely perceived similarities of the Russian line of events to the German one.
Perhaps the best synthesis of the German point of view, as well as of the solution sought by Berlin to calm down the present disorder of the international stage, is provided by an article written by W. Ischinger, a patriarch of the German diplomacy, who had been two decades ago in the front line of major decisions concerning Euro-Atlantic security (he is also the present President of the annual security conference in Munich-Wehrkunde, soon at its 52nd edition). For Germans’ perception, the engines of the present crisis in international relations “it is important to know, diplomats at Berlin consider a generation is needed until the crisis is dissolved” may be found in the contradictory behaviour of the United States in the period that followed the Cold War. At the end of the Cold War, there was a pact referring to the construction of a “Common house” of Europe, where the USSR was supposed to have its place, and obviously a privileged one (at least as it was required by the Euro-Asian balance of power based on strategic equipment.)
According to this agreement, therefore, in the perception of the German diplomacy, “During debates surrounding NATO expansion in the 1990s, the German government insisted on a two-pillar strategy: Yes to NATO expansion, accompanied by a more intensive partnership with Russia. We insisted that the two aspects needed to be balanced and complement each other. Without NATO expansion, the countries in Central and Eastern Europe would have continued to feel unsafe. And yet without a strong NATO Russia partnership, Russia would be locked out of the ‘common home’.
The outcome was the development and implementation of a dual strategy.”( Wolfgang Ischinger, A task of Generations Russia and the West, “Connections” vol.6, issue 3, 2015, p 7-9, http://www.marshallcenter.org/MCPUBLICWEB/MCDocs/files/College/F_Publications/perConcordiam/pC_V6N3_en.pdf).
A proof of the fact that Ischinger knew what he was talking about, that the end of the Cold War meant not only Eastern Europe getting free of communism, but, most of all, Russia’s ascension to this systemic evolution of Liberal pattern, in return for a droit de regard over its old sphere of influence. The fact that things have indeed happened this way is proved by the evolution of Ukraine, in the last few months, post Euro-Maidan, according to Ischinger, as Russia was afraid that this agreement might be violated and responded by occupying Crimea and Sevastopol, not to mention the aggression they exhibited at that point already (in Eastern Ukraine and other regions of this country.)
According to Ischinger, analysing the start of the Ukrainian crisis by the end of the year 2013, the Russian point of view is even enforced by existing documents EU had not been a part of, therefore, they were implicitly signed by Moscow and Washington: “As Russia sees it, the EU wanted to bring Ukraine closer and convince it to sever ties with Russia. But it is not correct that Kiev was forced to choose between the EU and Russia. What is true is that the EU was not prepared to accept Russia’s droit de regard in the negotiations with Kiev regarding an association agreement. (editor’s note). Who are we to demand that Kiev accept that a third party will have a say in negotiations about the future direction of the Ukraine? (as we comprehend this phrase:
‘We were not a part of the agreement concerning Russia’s droit de regard in its former sphere of influence, but somebody else, so we could not demand such thing from Kiev’)”(Ibidem).
And in the logic of the article written by the German diplomat we were quoting, the EU is not a member of the deal, yet, Moscow and Washington have already established a bilateral agreement regarding Russia’s droit de regard that included precisely nominated countries: “Today, it is not only Ukraine that feels under threat but also other countries, such as Moldova, Georgia and the Baltic states. It is not impossible to imagine that a gray area might emerge between EU/NATO and Russia. From Moscow’s standpoint, these countries form a cordon sanitaire, even though we have always wanted to avoid allowing differing levels of security across Europe.”(Ibidem).
Should we risk and try understanding that by the end of the Cold War, the agreement between Moscow and Washington stipulated precisely that the space of the former USSR would not join the flexible process of accommodation to the ‘common house’of Europe; instead, the mentioned states represent a “buffer zone” between Russia and Europe, which means, in other words, that Moscow was to keep a zone of influence, where it has a droit de regard concerning the evolution of these states?
And the entrance in this ‘common house’ should have been made by these states simultaneously with Russia, and not separately; moreover, without seeking its approval? Should be do it, obviously wondering whether these states are the only ones in this situation or perhaps, Russia’s right of surveillance also concerns all the states that belonged to the former Soviet circle of influence during the World War, which were parts of the Warsaw Pact, Romania included?
Here is what Ischinger says on this matter, after revealing that it was a common Russian -American strategy, applied by the Gore- Cernomardin Committee during the term of American President Bill Clinton, dedicated to the objective of expanding NATO simultaneously associated to the cooperation with Russia: “From Russia’s perspective, the West had continued to ignore Moscow’s security interests; only a clear message would put a stop to that. This sentiment is widely felt throughout Russia. In the summer of the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Gorbachev wrote in The New York Times: “Indeed, Russia has long been told to simply accept the facts. Here’s the independence of Kosovo for you. Here’s the abrogation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and the American decision to place missile defenses in neighboring countries. Here’s the unending expansion of NATO. All of these moves have been set against the backdrop of sweet talk about partnership. Why would anyone put up with such a charade?” (Ibidem).
Who was more familiar with the agreements between the West and the USSR at the end of the Cold War than one of the actors, none other than former Soviet President M. Gorbachev? And if the answer is positive, than his reference to Kosovo has a completely different meaning that the one constantly circulated in the international press, that Kosovo violated the Act in Helsinki, disregarding existing borders without the axiomatic bilateral agreement of parties. It means that it disregarded the bilateral agreement achieved at the end of World War, referring to the interdiction of such measures in a precisely established space. Could this space include, besides Yugoslavia, the countries of the Warsaw Pact? All of them or just a few of the states of the former military treaty? How are we supposed to interpret the warranty on security pronounced by American President Barack Obama in the speech he had held in Warsaw, in July 2014, specifically mentioning each guaranteed country: “Article 5 is clear: an attack on one is an attack on all.
And as allies, we have a solemn duty, a binding treaty obligation – to defend your territorial integrity. And we will. We stand together, now and forever, for your freedom is ours. Poland will never stand alone. But not just Poland. Estonia will never stand alone. Latvia will never stand alone. Lithuania will never stand alone. Romania will never stand alone. These are not just words. They’re unbreakable commitments backed by the strongest alliance in the world and the armed forces of the United States of America – the most powerful military in history.”? (http://tunebox.net/video/1181868/obama-warsaw-speech-you-will-never-stand-alone.htmlhttp://tunebox.net/video/1181868/obama-warsaw-speech-you-will-never-stand-alone.html). If the answers to the questions below are affirmative, then the problem is much complex and defines a power balance in Europe that is highly different from what we got used to think it is since the end of the Cold War. As one may note, Obama’s list of countries does not include former states of the Warsaw Pact, such as Bulgaria,Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic.
We leave this tempting topic of analysis behind, in order to circumscribe the way in which Russia has connected the two files of utmost interest for her: the antiterrorist file and the Ukrainian crisis file.