1 year ago




STRATEGIC EQUILIBRIUM IN THE BLACK SEA REGION IN THE CONTEXT... Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation, adopted in July, 2015, allots particular attention to the Black Sea because it is only via this sea that it can get access to the Mediterranean and, across the Mediteranean – to the Atlantic Ocean. During the first decade of the post-Cold-War period, the European and the Euro-Atlantic security architecture presupposed enhanced cooperation between NATO and Russia. In 1997, the two parties negotiated the NATO/Russia Founding Act concerning the relations, the cooperation, and the security between the Russian Federation and NATO. Given the absence of a tangible threat or of any serious challenges to European security on the part of Russia, NATO Allies managed to reduce, step by step, their ambitions embedded in their defense budgets. After the September 11 attacks and, in the context of the past decade, Moscow’s increasingly growing self-confidence as a key factor in international relations, coupled with its “intuitive” feeling of “ownership” over the post-Soviet space, as well as over the former Warsaw Treaty members, quite gradually – but with enviable unity – the NATO Member States took upon themselves to adapt their own policy. A number of analyzers tend to believe that the “breaking point” was really reached by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, by this country’s illegal annexation of Crimea through its support to the paramilitaries, as well as by its direct presence in some Ukrainian regions displaying separatist sentiments. If we take a look back at the period of “stable” security architecture based upon the Helsinki principles, we can find the first challenges facing up this architecture, which had existed ever since the early 21 st century. In 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the OSCE Member States adopted in Istanbul a number of important decisions that reaffirmed the significance of the already existing security architecture within the space stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok. These decisions include the adoption of the adapted version of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty and of the so called “Istanbul Commitments”, which had been made by Russia in relation to Georgia and Moldova. At that time, Russia had made a commitment that, by December 31, 2000, it was going to reduce the number of its military equipment deployed under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) down to 153 tanks, 241 armored combat vehicles, and 140 artillery systems in its military bases in Vaziani and Gudauta (both of them in Georgia), as well as in the repair facility in Tbilisi. In addition, Russia had committed itself to close down, not later than July 1, 2011, its military bases in Vaziani and Gudauta. However, all these commitments were breached, along with the ones made with respect to the territorial integrity of Georgia. As regards the Republic of Moldova, Russia had made a commitment to withdraw the military forces and equipment it had deployed in this country by the end of 2002. These commitments were not adhered to, either. During the Istanbul meeting, the Republic of Moldova came up with a declaration releasing information about the presence of foreign troops within its own territory and declared this presence was unconstitutional. This declaration also made it clear that the Russian troops and the Russian military equipment that had been deployed on Transnistrian territory were violating an underlying CFE principle related to the consent that has to be given by the host country to a temporary deployment of troops and military equipment of another country. Instead of meeting the commitments it had already made, in 2007, Russia decided, to terminate its participation in the CFE as of December 12 that same year. This was yet another act which undermined the foundations of the already existing security architecture in Europe. Moreover, Russia posed some additional serious challenges to the unconventional weapons domain by launching its own development of missile systems breaking in this way the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia’s 2008 DIPLOMACY 18/2016 145

STRATEGIC EQUILIBRIUM IN THE BLACK SEA REGION IN THE CONTEXT... military intervention in Georgia, which led to the establishment of two individual separatist regions, this country’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its support rendered to separatists in some Ukrainian regions, along with the hybrid warfare it has been waging, have posed a serious challenge to the European and the Euro-Atlantic security architecture, which is based upon the principles of Helsinki. To crown it all, some serious challenges have also arisen along the Eastern and the Southern NATO periphery, which has made the NATO states to start looking for an adequate answer. Last but not least, one can see even more distinctly that Russia has started to drift away from the current forms of cooperation with NATO. In December, 2015, the Russian president endorsed a new National Security Strategy, which claims that NATO constitutes the major threat to the security of Russia. On the other hand, one can find in no NATO strategic document a similar statement defining Russia as a NATO opponent. The foundations of a sustainable future in the Black Sea region can only be laid by restoring the minimum level of trust and confidence. However, the Russian behavior only presupposes some conclusions about the future. NATO is not the one to blame for the current stagnation in the relations between the North Atlantic Alliance and Russia as the NATO Allies neither wish, nor seek any confrontation with Russia. At the same time, the NATO states cannot afford to make any compromises with the principles and values on which the security architecture rests. Beause these principles and values also constitute the foundation of the very community of democratic and constitutional states. If we use the language of real politics, this formulation is going to be as follows: the major challenge today involves the question in what way to attain security jointly with Russia or how to find the way to a sustainable future together with Russia. The ongoing instablility in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria, ISIS (the so called Islamic State), the foreign fighters of this „state”, the frozen conflicts, as well as migration constitute additional security risks which are indicative of the need for cooperation with Russia. The decisions made in the area of relations between NATO and Russia were in the focus of the NATO Warsaw Summit. For over two decades, NATO had been trying to form some kind of partnership with Russia, inluding through the NATO-Russia Counsil mechanism. But Russia’s actions in Ukraine were a serious breach of the Russian committments as they betrayed the principles and disregarded the values underlying the NATO/Russia Founding Act. The trust and confidence between the two parties had also been abused for which reason cooperation today is considered to be unthinkable. The key principles of the European and the Euro-Atlantic security architecture had also been betrayed. In response to the above, NATO had made e decision to terminate its civilian and military cooperation with Russia while keeping at the same time the political dialogue with this country on the level of permanent representatives in Brussels. In addition, it had also decided to strengthen its deterrent and defensive potential. In Warsaw, the Allies agreed that the dialogue with Russia had to go on as they believed that this dialogue could be used as a means to communiate their own positions to the Russian party. So, the North Atlantic Alliance remained open to any well-focused and meanngful dialogue with Russia and continued at the same time to further reinforce its collective deterrence and defense capabilities. The Allies unanimously agreed that there was no contradiction between the two elements mentioned above. Their expectations were that the Russian party was going to reciprocate by making some committments in relation to the NATO-Russia Council. They also agreed that Russia should be encouraged to engage 146 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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