Four hotbeds of a potential Russia-NATO conflict
‘’The member states of NATO have brought a regime of control over the conventional arms in Europe to a standstill. Our attempts to save it have stumbled across the rigid ideologically-driven opposite reaction. All the ideas on how to return to this topic now can make sense, only if the North Atlantic Alliance is aware of absolute futility of the ultimatums aimed at gaining of the unilateral advantages,’’ Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, speaking at the 71th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The most experts recognize that, despite the common threat of terrorism, the Russian Federation and NATO are the opponents on the most fundamental questions, and a possible co-operation is limited by the number of narrow topics.
An associate professor of the department of International Securtiy of the faculty of World Politics of the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, Alexey Fenenko, recalls that in 1997, Russia and NATO signed the Founding Act, where the rules of the game were written: NATO committed not to place large military contingents on the territory of the new members of the alliance, not to deploy the nuclear weapons, and to conduct a dialogue with Moscow on the European security. ‘’At the NATO summer in Wales, everything collapsed. The last December, NATO said it would not extend the Founding Act in the previous form. The Alliance will increase the amount of military forces in Eastern Europe and push Germany for increasing of the military activity in the region,’’ the expert believes.
He recalled that in the spring of the last year, the Russian Foreign Ministry suggested an option: "If you do not want the Founding Act, lets not sign it. Lets conclude an agreement on the neutral status of the four countries vital for us - Finland, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.’’
‘’They turned us down. This means, the neutrality of these countries is not guaranteed as well,’’ Fenenko complained. The entire region from the Baltic to the Black Sea is filled with the hotbeds, where risk of the military confrontation between Russia and NATO is high. The first and the most painful point is Transnistria, which has neither the sea, nor the land borders with Russia. Our group is still cut off there. NATO expands the military infrastructure in Romania. Imagine that Ukraine and Moldova start a military operation against our troops in Transnistria, Romania joins them, and we are told that entering the war will mean the war with NATO. "
The expert believes the situation in the Baltic Sea is no less dangerous, ‘’Dramatics in Sweden and Finland is an attempt not just to draw them into NATO, but to block the Gulf of Finland from us. Then Kaliningrad remains cut off from the territory of the rest of Russia. They will not even start a war with us. They will just say: "That's the situation. What concessions can you make for us in Syria, or in Ukraine, for example?’’
Fenenko called Syria the third sore point: ‘’There are talks about a no-fly zone. How will they implement it? Does this means a military conflict with our air defense system and aircrafts?’’
The expert believes the Caucasus is the fourth potentially disputed territory : ‘’The strain in Georgia still remains. The recent attempts to deploy the NATO infrastructure show that the Caucasian direction has not been fully closed. Given an intensification of the anti-Russian forces in Armenia, which we have seen recently, a hotbed of tension can appear there as well.’’
Summarizing, Fenenko said: "The danger of a possible conflict between Russia and NATO is something like a war of succession in the 18th century, when we are waging a war on the territory of any third country, which is experiencing a crisis, until someone forces us to bury the hatchet on the profitable terms. Therefore, we need the rapid reaction forces, rapid adoption of the political decisions, and an ability to have the appropriate military capabilities.’’