fbpx

The world observed a well-developed Russian strategy and military model have had destabilizing consequences and wide-ranging implications for international security, in particular for Europe, and global stability since the Ukraine crisis. Needless to say, most European countries and notably NATO conclude that Russian policy, military strategy, and military practice in the Ukraine crisis challenge the European security and carry significant implications for NATO, therefore the Ukraine crisis force the EU and NATO to concentrate on measures against Russian strategy.[1]

In reality, Russia has already given the signals of its intentions via the Military Doctrine 2010 and Defense Strategy 2013 that list destabilization of the near abroad, in other words buffer zone, and NATO or the EU expansion, including deployment of military forces, as most relevant military threats. Both documents highlight that “Russia faced the very real threat of being side-lined in international affairs.” [2] Furthermore MacKinnon suggests that in line with its new regime change strategy, the United States forced the former Soviet Union’s member states to establish their political institutions, provided funds for the opposition, and supported revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. Thus, the revolutions added to the Kremlin’s perception that “Washington’s chief objective might have been to change the regime in Russia as well.”[3] Likewise, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “NATO’s expansion by pulling more Russia’s neighboring countries into the alliance is unacceptable”.[4]  Therefore it could be concluded from Russian point of view that everything should be done to prevent NATO and the EU expansion which can be characterized as the greatest threat to Russian security, and that’s why Russia must restore its status as a great power inside its own sphere of influence.

It is the aim of this analytic paper to search why the EU and NATO have failed to manage the crisis emanating from Russian aggression and expansion in Ukraine, and to address the current strategic environment as well. I shall try to analyze the drivers and the reasons of NATO and the EU’s poor reaction against Russia, and finally I will emphasize why and how the roles of NATO and the European Security Strategy should be reconsidered in the light of energy security policy of the EU, and why NATO and the EU needs to improve their responsiveness rather than readiness.

Photo: by Pixabay

The Drivers and the Reasons of NATO and the EU’s Poor Reaction Against Russia

The Rise of the Russia and the Russian Grand Strategy

As it is widely believed, the most important pillar of Russia’s recovery has been materialized via its economic boom in earnings from oil and gas exports. The rise of crude oil and naturel gas prices since the late 1990s and early 2000s have promoted the resurgence of the Russia, and  allowed Russia to increasingly allocate funds towards its military forces and provided it with the leverage to exert pressure on its customers.[5] Panel data from the World Bank-financed Russian Economic Barometer suggest that “by 2003–2005 capacity utilization rates had risen in most main sectors from lows of below 70% after the 1998 crisis to around 90%. Given the age and obsolescence of installed equipment (with an average age of nearly 20 years by mid-decade), the output gap had clearly closed.” From 2000 to 2008, its national security budget rose from 214 billion rubles to 1,017 billion. From 2008, Russia began to acquire new military hardware such as nuclear submarines, strategic bombers, ballistic missiles, and tanks.[6] In addtion to these developments, Russia has challenged the current order by cultivating ties with rising powers such as BRICS countries to create a multipolar world order and also to counter NATO and the EU expansion.[7]

Despite the fact that the world witnessed the collapse of Soviet Russia, in reality Russia remains a self-sufficient country and one of the richest nations in the world. According to a presentation given by Osipov at the Second Sociological Congress in Moscow, Russia has all the necessary pillars to achieve Great Power status.[8] In other words, due to its geography, the socio-political system, natural resources, and nuclear weapons, Russia has remained a powerful country.[9] In this frame, it could be concluded that after getting better the shortcoming of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s current foreign policy based on its economic boom is focused on bolstering Russia’s prestige, supporting economic growth, and maintaining influence in its backyard. So, Putin has chosen to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, ignoring both the sanctions and the diplomatic pressures of the EU and NATO in response to Russia’s aggression.

On the other hand, looking at the downward trend in European defense spending, and shortfalls in European defense capabilities, “just three NATO allies (Greece, the UK, and the United States) exceeded the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of GDP on defense, for example in 2013, total defense spending by NATO European allies as a percentage of GDP was about 1.6%.”[10] On the contrary, Russian defense budget will rise over 4 per cent of GDP in the next ten years.[11] Moreover, in addition to the ongoing global financial crisis, the cost of the military involvement in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Africa has made it difficult for both the EU and NATO members to act as the world’s only economic and political authority.[12]

The Transformation of Russian Armed Forces and the Russian Hybrid Model

Within this context; to carry out the new Russian foreign policy and security strategy, the armed forces of Russia have undergone a transformation that applies to structure, equipment, and leadership culture and thus replicates developments evident in Western armies.[13] Thus, the Russian Armed Forces have evolved into a tool that can be used effectively in a national strategy of conflict management and conducting military operations, for example hybrid warfare.[14]

In relation to the Russian Grand Strategy, in the speech held at the Russian Academy for Military Sciences in 2013, Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov lectured on the “the value of science in prediction”. In this lecture, he first characterized modern wars and then derived challenges for Russian Armed Forces from his findings. He used the term “non-linear war”. In this context, Russian Armed Forces’ operation in Ukraine, in particular the annexation of Crimia, could be defined as “hybrid warfare” as frequently used. In other words, Gerasimov’s theory describes a holistic, harmonized approach that comprises political, economic, humanitarian, informational, and other non-military instruments which are used simutaneously in order to achieve national interests. In short, the new Russian Military Doctrine mentions how military and non-military means are used in tandem in today’s conflicts, but it also highlights the importance of new technology.

After beginning to implement its grand strategy and military transformation process, Russia has begun to test its new global force projection and sent a stategic deterrence message to the rest of the world. For example: show of force in Arctic region, creation of a new command and control system and construction of a new air defense system, long-range aircraft flypatrols in the Atlantic, boosting its fleet to reestablish its presence in the world’s seas, in particular expanded Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean, new military exercises with China, and so on.[15]

NATO and the EU Decision-Making Process versus Russian Uniform Command

Information from open sources says that with consruction of the new National Defense Center in Moscow in 2014, during crisis, in case of war and also in disaster operations all relevant organs of the state such as Ministries of Economy, Finance, Internal Affairs and Disaster Control can operate under one uniform command, currently President Putin. On the other hand, when we look at the EU and NATO decision-making process, it is clear that the political complexities such as the Kosovo, Georgia and finally Ukraine cases inherent in North Atlantic Council and Military Committee debates mean that there is no simple fix to improve NATO or the EU decision-making. Moreover, some NATO officials believe that the growing necessity for rapid reaction indicates a clear need to develop a new process instead of the consensus and slience procedure to accelerate NATO decision-making process.[16]

Similarly, turning to the EU side we see the same picture, for example European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for forming an EU army capable of responding to security threats in member countries and states bordering the EU in March 2015, but there is no significant progress to form that kind of force consistent with the Common Security and Defense Policy.[17] Furthermore, the gap or differences between European leaders’ statements and the absence of hard and fast EU action highlights the “lethargy” in European decision-making.[18] So, there is hardly any doubt that the uniform command provides Russia a kind of situational and implementation superiority against both the EU and NATO, and an opportunity for a systematic concentration of state authority.

Photo: by Pixabay

Lack of Uniform Political Front Among Both NATO and the EU Against Russia

Before taking this analysis further, it is worth looking more closely at the significance of Russia’s development and the impact of that development on international perceptions of Russia and relations with Russia. With regard to this perspective, K.Govella and V.K. Aggarwal give significant examples:

 Russia’s imports are an important component of its best relationships with Western Europe – resulting, for example, in the German-led blocking of the Bush administration’s attempt in 2008 to fast track NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. Likewise, Russia’s imports from the UK may help explain why the UK business lobby has been less effective in countering political tensions with Russia.[19]

Moving to strategic decisive factors shaping the political front in the EU and NATO, I think we fully agree that the most significant by far must be the 2014 Ukrainian crisis which has aggravated numerous energy-related disputes and highlighted the overall politicization of energy issues between the EU and Russia. Regarding this significant factor, in particular the involvement of Western European energy groups in the new Russia-Europe gas pipeline projects called as “North Stream” and “South Stream”, Guillet emphasizes that the EU leadership is certainly aware that member states had dissimilar interests, thus the EU is not prepared to fight with European energy champion, Gazprom.[20] In line with this assumption, Paillard also highlights that “Europe’s need for fuel and Russia’s need for a stable export market would seem to make them natural trading partners for one another. 60% of Russian crude oil and 90% of Russian gas go to the European Union.”[21] Moreover, Russian energy security challenge is the most important driver of internal contradictions inside European energy security policy.[22] Especially when we look at German, Italian and French cases that indicate a close friendship between the leaders of these states, we can see that they are showing specific function of networking in gas sphere involving European and Russian leaders.[23]

That’s why Blockmans claims that Putin may have – rightly – gambled that “the EU will not increase sanctions significantly, because the appetite for conflict with Russia is still limited in many European member states.”[24] As an additional point, in general terms, we could hold from the view of the Baltic countries feeling themselves more vulnerable to Russia than Western European states during the Ukraine crisis were eager to take more deterrent measures against Russia. Overall assessment, we could clearly assume that the EU’s weak hand in adopting further sanctions and the lack of uniform political front among both NATO and the EU against Russia due to the dependency on Russian energy (for example: about 59% of the natural gas consumed in Poland, 80% in Hungary, 84% in Slovakia, and 57% in the Czech Republic[25]) and diverse economic perspectives paves the way for Russian aggression and expansion, at least encourage Russia to pursue its grand strategy.

To fight with this threat, Kazantsev highlights the realist perspective in international relations which based on “power”, and he holds that power can be understood in this context as “either making Europe less vulnerable for the threat of Russian gas supply disruption, or development of any types of instruments to pressurize Russia on energy security issues.”[26]

On the contrary, apart from the realistic approach in the international relations, enhanced business ties could be used as an important element in producing a longer-term relationship. In relation to this idea, Kustova suggests that institutional developments in both the EU’s and Russia’s hydrocarbon sectors could cause a convergence of energy interests between the producers and consumers.[27] In addition to that, with diversification of the external energy supply routes to Europe such as Nabucco and Transcaspian,[28] Europe could speak with one voice in order to improve its position towards Russia by updating EU Common Foreign and Security Policy in the light of the energy security in future. At the same time, as mentioned in the Swedish Defence Research Agency report in 2013, “Russia is well aware of the dangers of becoming isolated.” So, it could be expected that Russia is likely to tend to increase its efforts to cooperate with other countries and IOs as well, such as the Customs Union, Eurasian Union, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”[29]

Lastly, although it could be hold that NATO sustains hardly its cohesion against Russia due to some specific reasons aforementioned, to demonstrate the “strength of the transatlantic bond, NATO has succeeded in implementing the Readiness Action Plan which ensures that the Alliance is ready to respond challenges from the east and the south, and particularly the Enhanced Forward Presence which is the largest reinforcement of NATO troops in the Eastern Europe for a generation.[30]

Conclusion

The commitment to universal norms and values, so typical in the EU and NATO, is de facto non-existent in Russia as we currently see in Ukraine crisis, in particular during annexation of Crimea, and finally in Syria. It can be concluded that the West’s commitment to norms and values could be exploited as a weakness.  In addition to that, due to the lack of coherence in policy, together with an obscure policymaking process, and the absence of an ambitiously conceived strategic vision among the EU and NATO members, the two organizations should adopt their military capabilities and decision-making process to the new strategic environment in particular shaped by hybrid threats as seen in Russian and ISIL’s[31] models. With respect to these realities, especially NATO should first enhance its responsiveness capacity and capabilities taking into account the members’ budget constraints and the need to maintain a balance between security concerns and the EU’s energy dependency on Russia. Secondly, fair burden and responsibility sharing between NATO’s and the EU’s members could ensure sustainability of the taken measures against Russian aggression and guarantee a credible deterrence.

On the other hand, divergent interests, if well managed, can be part of an improving relationship. Therefore, it could be concluded that the fundamental geo-economic reality is that Europe is seriously and increasingly deficient in energy and Russia is likely to be the main energy supplier to Europe as Putin summarizes this situation very shortly: “we are in the same boat”. Therefore, in addition to practical assurance options for deterrence, taking into account the continuation of dependency of the EU and NATO members on Russian energy in foreseeable future, the EU and NATO might also work with Russia to address issues of instability in Afghanistan and Central Asia, the rise of China, counter global terrorism and extremism, and the proliferation of conventional weapons in Eurasia and the Middle East, instead of expanding NATO and the EU in Russian buffer zone.  The discussions about energy security issues in NATO show that increased tension with Russia even create new additional problems for the Alliance since NATO could involve in new potential spirals of conflict due to Transatlantic solidarity.[32]

Furthermore Russia is the other principal nuclear power, and as in the past, it has still strategic deterrence. For this reason, if the EU and NATO wish to create a regime providing global stability and shaping bilateral relationship, finding a way to cooperate with Russia defining it as “a strategic partner” rather than compete with “the old enemy” might be a feasible solution to counter Russian aggression.  For this purpose, the established Russia–NATO Council could be reactivated depends on Russian positive acts in Ukraine crisis. But there is a reality that we should keep in mind that the EU and NATO have causes to be skeptical of Russia’s declared intentions regarding Syria and Mediterranean to develop a security partnership. In other words, after improving the EU and NATO responsiveness and deterrence capacity and capabilities, seeking ways for the integration of Russia with the international system rather than alienation of “the bear” could make substantial contribution to the global security and stability.

Finally, I strongly believe that the Ukrainian crisis shows the EU and NATO that firstly the European Security Strategy should be reviewed in the light of the EU–Russia economic and politic relations and the European energy security policy, secondly although NATO has enhanced its capacity and capabilities in terms of deterrence and defense posture, NATO should still tend to increase its “responsiveness” capacity and capabilities rather than its “readiness”.

 

 

 

References

  1. Kazantsev, Policy Networks in European–Russian Gas Relations: Function and Dysfunction from a Perspective of EU Energy Security, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45, pp.305–313, 2012.
  2. Tsygankov, US–Russia Relations in the Post-Western World, pp.35, 2012.
  3. Baran, Z., EU Energy Security: Time to End Russian Leverage. The Washington Quarterly 30 (4), 131–144, 2007.
  4. BND Analysis, On Russian’s Hybrid Warfare, Military Policy/Armed Forces, pp.1, 2014.
  5. Pavel, Leading in the Concert of Great Powers: Lessons from Russia’s G8 Chairmanship, 2009. In The Multilateral Dimension in Russian Foreign Policy, edited by E.W.Rowe and S. Torjesen, 58–68. London: Routledge.
  6. Congressional Research Service, NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe, pp. 1, 2014.
  7. Eurogas, Statistical Report 2013.
  8. Gerome, Gazprom as Predictable Partner: Another Reading of the Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Belarusian Energy Crises. Russie.Nei.Visions 18 (1):4–24, 2007.
  9. Kustova, EU–Russia Energy Relations, EU Energy Integration, and Energy Security: the State of the Art and a Roadmap for Future Research Journal of Contemporary European Research Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015.
  10. Interfax News Agency, Newly Independent States, March 11, 2015.
  11. Govella and V.K. Aggarwal, Responding to a Resurgent Russia, pp.6, 2012.
  12. MacKinnon, Mark, The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union, New York: Random House, 2007.
  13. Christophe-Alexandre, Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence, Journal of International Affairs 63(2), pp.65–84, 2010.
  14. Gallis, NATO’s Decision-Making Procedure, CRS Report for Congress, pp.5, 2003.
  15. Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year Perspective, Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2013.
  16. Russian Military Doctrine 2010 and Defense Strategy 2013.
  17. Iva, The Russian Soldier Today, Journal of International Affairs 63 (2), pp.219–229, 2010.
  18. Blockmans, How Should the EU Respond to Russia’s War in Ukraine?, Centre for European Policy Studies Commentary, 3 September 2014.
  19. Second Sociological Congress of Russia, Russian Society and Sociology in XXI Century: Social Challenges and Alternatives, 2003.
  20. Gencer, Rusya Federasyonu Silahlı Kuvvetlerinin Yükselişinde Gerasimov Doktrinin Rolü, Kara Harp Akademisi Dergisi Vol.32 No:5, pp.14, 2014.
  21. Wales Summit Declaration, 2014.
  22. Wood, S., Energy Security, Normative Dilemmas, and Institutional Camouflage: Europe’s Pragmatism, Politics and Policy 37 (3), 611–635, 2009.
  23. Xinhua News Agency, NATO Expansion to Russian Borders Unacceptable: Lavrov, 13 Sep 2014.

 

[1] Wales Summit Declaration, 2014.

[2] Russian Military Doctrine 2010 and Defense Strategy 2013.

[3] MacKinnon, Mark, The New Cold War: Revolutions, Rigged Elections and Pipeline Politics in the Former Soviet Union, New York: Random House, 2007.

[4] Xinhua News Agency, NATO Expansion to Russian Borders Unacceptable: Lavrov, 13 Sep 2014.

[5] K.Govella and V.K. Aggarwal, Responding to a Resurgent Russia, pp.6, 2012.

[6] S. Iva, The Russian Soldier Today, Journal of International Affairs 63 (2), pp.219–229, 2010.

[7] B. Pavel, Leading in the Concert of Great Powers: Lessons from Russia’s G8 Chairmanship, 2009. In The Multilateral Dimension in Russian Foreign Policy, edited by E.W.Rowe and S. Torjesen, 58–68. London: Routledge.

[8] Second Sociological Congress of Russia, Russian Society and Sociology in XXI Century: Social Challenges and Alternatives, 2003.

[9] K.Govella and V.K. Aggarwal, Responding to a Resurgent Russia, pp.16, 2012.

[10] Congressional Research Service, NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe, pp. 1, 2014.

[11] Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year Perspective,  Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2013.

[12] A.Tsygankov, US–Russia Relations in the Post-Western World, pp.35, 2012.

[13] BND Analysis, On Russian’s Hybrid Warfare, Military Policy/Armed Forces, pp.1, 2014.

[14] “Hybrid” is a term used to denote an entity or a system that is composed of most different elements or processes.

[15] K.Govella and V.K. Aggarwal, Responding to a Resurgent Russia, pp.17, 2012.

[16] P.Gallis, NATO’s Decision-Making Procedure, CRS Report for Congress, pp.5, 2003.

[17] Interfax News Agency, Newly Independent States, March 11, 2015.

[18] S.Blockmans, How Should the EU Respond to Russia’s War in Ukraine?, Centre for European Policy Studies Commentary, 3 September 2014.

[19] K.Govella and V.K. Aggarwal, Responding to a Resurgent Russia, pp.58, 2012.

[20] G. Gerome, Gazprom as Predictable Partner: Another Reading of the Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Belarusian Energy Crises. Russie.Nei.Visions 18 (1):4–24, 2007.

[21] P.Christophe-Alexandre, Russia and Europe’s Mutual Energy Dependence, Journal of International Affairs 63(2), pp.65–84, 2010.

[22] Wood, S., Energy Security, Normative Dilemmas, and Institutional Camouflage: Europe’s Pragmatism, Politics and Policy 37 (3), 611–635, 2009.

[23] A. Kazantsev, Policy Networks in European–Russian Gas Relations: Function and Dysfunction from a Perspective of EU Energy Security, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45, pp.305–313, 2012.

[24] S.Blockmans, How Should the EU Respond to Russia’s War in Ukraine?, Centre for European Policy Studies Commentary, 3 September 2014.

[25] Eurogas, Statistical Report 2013.

[26] A. Kazantsev, Policy Networks in European–Russian Gas Relations: Function and Dysfunction from a Perspective of EU Energy Security, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45, pp.305–313, 2012.

[27] I.Kustova, EU–Russia Energy Relations, EU Energy Integration, and Energy Security: the State of the Art and a Roadmap for Future Research Journal of Contemporary European Research Volume 11, Issue 3, 2015.

[28] Baran, Z., EU Energy Security: Time to End Russian Leverage. The Washington Quarterly 30 (4), 131–144, 2007.

[29] Russian Military Capability in a Ten-Year Perspective, Swedish Defence Research Agency, 2013.

[30] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_119353.htm?selectedLocale=en

[31] Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

[32] A. Kazantsev, Policy Networks in European–Russian Gas Relations: Function and Dysfunction from a Perspective of EU Energy Security, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 45, pp.305–313, 2012.

COVID19 DashboardOne-stop-shop for all useful datasets, charts, articles, latest news and official social media posts about #coronavirus.
Visit now!