Long noticed: as soon as something goes wrong, there will definitely be someone, who warned about this a long time ago. This happened last week, what many have warned about. The “Collective West,” represented by the United States and its European allies, rejected Russia’s demands to close the doors of the North Atlantic Alliance to new countries in eastern Europe and return the bloc’s military infrastructure to those positions, where was it at the end of the last century.
There is no need to repeat the arguments once again, which were cited by numerous experts in Russia and abroad, expressing doubts about the feasibility of Russian initiatives. NATO countries' compliance with Moscow's demands, and even presented in an extremely harsh and uncompromising form, is associated with numerous strategic obstacles, political, legal, ideological and even psychological nature.
Discussion of such requirements in practical terms, probably, would be acceptable and even appropriate after some major armed conflict in Europe, in which the NATO bloc would suffer a crushing defeat. But in relations with Moscow, the West still considers itself not a loser, and to the winners, even if this victory is moving further into the past. The recent fiasco of the North Atlantic Alliance in Afghanistan and the worsening confrontation between the West and China do not yet mean, that the United States and its allies are already ready to discuss the terms of surrender in Europe.
Naturally, the question arises, How Moscow should move forward after its spectacular diplomatic blitzkrieg fizzled out. There is no shortage of advice in the Russian expert community, how to ruin the lives of intractable Western opponents as much as possible. The range of offers is very wide. This includes the deployment of new missile systems near the borders of NATO states, and creating military threats to the United States closer to American territory (for example, in Cuba or Venezuela), and intensification of the activities of international PMCs with Russian participation in unstable regions of Africa, and bringing military-technical cooperation with China to a new level, escalation of information and cyber warfare on the Western Front, and much more.
Various ways to punish the West diplomatically are also proposed. For example, withdraw from the Charter of Paris for a new Europe 1990 of the year, and at the same time from the OSCE and the Council of Europe, denounce the Russia-NATO Founding Act 1997 of the year, officially recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR in eastern Ukraine, suspend Russian-American negotiations on strategic offensive weapons, etc..
If such or similar proposals are accepted, then their implementation, without a doubt, will create new serious security problems for our Western opponents. However, it is not entirely clear, how all these steps can strengthen the security of Russia itself. More likely, the result will be exactly the opposite: unwinding of the European spiral, and global confrontation will receive a powerful additional impetus, increasingly increasing the likelihood of direct military conflict, fraught with general catastrophe - global nuclear war. If security in the modern world is indivisible, then its absence is also indivisible.
Playing to escalate a situation can be very effective in some circumstances., but are the risks inevitably associated with it justified in this particular case?? Do Russian strategists have confidence?, that with the constant increase in rates, Western players will blink first, they will throw the cards on the table and Moscow will take the bank?
Here you first need to decide on the issue, What is more important for Russia - to hurt the unyielding and hypocritical West more painfully?, take revenge for the defeats and unilateral concessions of the 1990s or try to strengthen your own security as much as possible - with all objective restrictions, imposed by the current geopolitical situation.
If it is not the first one who is at the forefront, and the second task, then Russia cannot avoid adjusting the previously stated approach based on the “all or nothing” principle. Get "all", as already noted, possible after a decisive military conflict, when the victorious side dictates its terms to the vanquished, to a confused and demoralized enemy. In this case, it would be permissible to demand not only a rollback of NATO to its original positions at the end of the last century, but also the general dissolution of the North Atlantic bloc and the restoration of the Warsaw Pact Organization.
However, as history shows, even in relations with a defeated enemy, the uncompromisingly tough positions of the winner do not justify themselves: the defeated person becomes convinced of the injustice committed against him, and this conviction invariably turns out to be a breeding ground for renewed confrontation. Even in that unlikely scenario, in which Russia would be able to bring NATO to its knees and force the West to accept all its demands, Moscow would only repeat that tragic mistake, which the North Atlantic Alliance committed against Russia itself after the end of the Cold War. This vicious circle must be broken, and the sooner, all the better.
What specifically would be worth thinking about to get out of the current impasse??
First of all, It is advisable to clearly separate the bilateral Russian-American agenda in the field of strategic weapons from security issues in Europe. Negotiations between Moscow and Washington on nuclear issues have their own logic and dynamics of development. They are too important for both sides, and for the entire international community, to link them with any other problems, including European security issues. Russia and the West separated the nuclear agenda from other aspects of relations for many decades, and there is no reasonable reason to revise this principle today.
Besides, that, that Russia and the West understand, how long-term is their confrontation and how fundamental are the differences over the future of European security?, does not nullify the value of specific steps, capable of giving this confrontation a more stable and predictable character. Furthermore, the lack of hope for overcoming fundamental differences makes these steps even more urgent.
Any, even if very modest confidence-building measures - the creation of a buffer zone along the line of contact between Russia and NATO with a special regime of military activity, restoration of the work of the Russian-NATO Council with the inclusion of a military dimension, possible revival in some form of the Open Skies Treaty, — all these actions, even taken together, would not lead to the formation of a new European security system, but would help stabilize the current unstable situation. This in itself would be a great achievement of Russian politics, If, certainly, its goal is not to maintain a situation of “strategic uncertainty” and brinkmanship in Europe.
If the main threat, from Moscow's point of view, - this is the approach of NATO military infrastructure to the western Russian borders, then it would be logical to focus on this infrastructure, and not on the theoretical possibility of NATO expansion as such. Let's not forget, that NATO’s institutional advancement in the eastern direction is not included in the immediate and even medium-term plans of Brussels. In addition, there is a precedent from France, which remained in the ranks of the North Atlantic Alliance for more than four decades, but did not participate in the work of the bloc’s military structures.
Specific issues of restrictions on the geographical expansion of the bloc's infrastructure could be considered in the format of negotiations on a new Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE-2). And such an agreement could become legally binding for Brussels and Moscow. At one time, the CFE Treaty became a historical breakthrough, which made it possible to sharply reduce the level of confrontation in the center of the European continent. It's clear, that CFE-2 cannot be a copy of a treaty thirty years ago - too much has changed in the geopolitical situation, and in military technology. Working on a new treaty will require significant efforts from all its participants, but if there is political will, this task cannot be considered fundamentally impossible.
Moscow should not forget about working with those neighbors of Russia, who are already lining up to join the Alliance. When we usually talk about, that Ukraine or Georgia are being “drawn into NATO”, one gets the impression, that the initiative comes from the western side, and the countries involved are desperately resisting, but are forced to slowly yield to pressure from Brussels.
In fact, everything is exactly the opposite - it is the former Soviet republics that have been desperately storming the Euro-Atlantic security structures for many years, and the West is forced to react to this pressure one way or another, fully aware of the fact, that the admission of new countries will not so much strengthen, How much will the North Atlantic Alliance weaken?. As soon as this is so, then Moscow should focus on, to find alternative mechanisms for ensuring their security for the countries of the “common neighbourhood”, which would reduce their desire to achieve the coveted entry into NATO at any cost.
Regarding Ukraine, it is now difficult to raise the question of Kiev’s full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Without removing it from the agenda, it would be worth focusing on the first three points of these agreements, suggesting stabilization of the situation along the demarcation line in Donbass (implementation of ceasefire agreements, withdrawal of heavy weapons and strengthening of the OSCE mission). This would be an important factor in reducing tensions directly in Donbass, and in Russian-Ukrainian relations in general. Naturally, this does not exclude possible bargaining between Russia and the West on volumes and, The main thing, meaningful content of military-technical assistance to Kyiv from the latter.
Some experts opine, that's tough, Moscow's radical and uncompromising demands, addressed to the United States and its NATO partners, were a kind of shock therapy, designed to force the West to pay attention to Russia's legitimate security interests, which the West practically ignored for a long time. If this was the goal of Russian policy, then this goal was achieved: Russia's voice sounded loud and clear.
But logic and common sense dictate, that shock therapy in itself is not enough to, to cope with numerous ailments, accumulated in relations between Moscow and the West. This clearly cannot be done without a long course of conservative treatment.. Let us remind you, that conservative treatment in medicine involves, first of all, preventing the deterioration of the patient’s health condition; it is considered, that the patient will either recover naturally, or the progression of the disease can be slowed down so much, that the patient will not require additional surgical intervention. Typically, conservative treatment involves bed rest and minimal physical activity..