NATO/Russian Tensions Escalate to New Heights November 24, 2011

NATO/Russian Tensions Escalate to New Heights
November 24, 2011 | From

Tensions between Russia and the nato alliance are escalating to new heights. Four years ago, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin signed into law a rejection of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (cfe). This week, the United States, Germany and 13 other natomembers followed suit in withdrawing from the cfe.

The cfe limits the number of combat vehicles, aircraft and heavy artillery that can be deployed in Europe.

Putin rejected this treaty on the grounds that nato members refused to ratify a treaty update in 1999. After he did so, Europeans no longer had any guarantee that Russia wouldn’t station thousands of tanks on their eastern borders. Now nato is following suit, and the Russians have no guarantee that a buildup of armed forces won’t be stationed along their border.

All of this tension is coming just a week after the chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces condemned nato’s eastward expansion. Gen. Nikolai Makarov said on November 17 that nato’s eastward expansion is putting Russia at heightened risk of border conflicts that may “develop into a full-scale war involving nuclear weapons.”

So far, the Russians have played this whole situation pretty cool. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow, however, is waking up to the fact it is going to have to negotiate a new security treaty.

“The decision of nato countries does not harm the Russian interests, but it calls for intensified efforts of all interested parties to determine the future of arms control regime in Europe,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Both Russia and nato have been in a state of transition over the past several years. Russia is returning to superpower status under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, and nato is shifting into a more Euro-centric organization as American influence shrivels on the world scene. Both power blocs desperately need to come to some sort of understanding with each other so that they can focus on security issues in other parts of the world.

Watch for Europe to unite as the Russian bear awakens. Look for a comingEurope-Russia treaty that will temporarily soothe these tensions—a repeat of 1939 and Molotov-Ribbentrop and a collection of similar treaties Russia and Germany, Europe’s own aggressor, have concluded in the past.

Expect stark political shifts in Europe to precede a revolution in the continent’s military reality, and for it to indeed stand on its own legs militarily. •


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