A readiness action plan to respond to Russia’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ukraine is being prepared at Nato’s two-day summit in Wales, UK.
GIS has highlighted in various reports and statements over many months the fragility of Europe’s defence and its dependence on the US in the framework of Nato, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The activities of Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine appear to be a wake-up call for Europe and especially Nato. Russia is considered aggressive and a real threat.
The Nato summit is addressing this issue. Nato has established an air force presence in the Baltics and formed a 4,000-strong rapid reaction force to deter Russian aggression. Further measures could be decided at the summit which ends on September 5.
Nato has included parts of the former Soviet Union and Soviet satellites as members for a number of years. They include the Baltic States, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria. Nato, however, is not very active in this area as there are understandings with Russia, dating back to 1997, that Nato will not deploy ‘substantial’ forces ‘permanently’ there. But these countries are protected - at least in theory - by Article 5 of Nato’s statutes. This gives all Nato countries the obligation to defend an attacked member.
So, should the West be grateful for the Kremlin’s aggression because it has raised awareness of the importance of defence and could be strengthening Nato as a defence organisation which can contain aggressors?
Did Russia’s President Vladimir Putin score an own goal by his aggression which has resulted in Nato strengthening its permanent deployment of Nato forces in countries which were former Soviet Union satellites?
Certainly that is how things could look now and this reappraisal of Nato could contribute to a sustainable peace.
Russia’s politicians have wanted to prohibit deployment of permanent Nato forces in their vicinity.
But I fear the Kremlin may interpret the West’s latest declaration and Nato measures as no more than sabre-rattling and provocation, rather than as a deterrent to further aggression. The US administration of President Barack Obama has lost credibility by setting red lines in Syria and failing to enforce them.
Western Europe will lack credibility as long as the major countries fail to increase their defence spending considerably. A significant increase in defence spending would give a clear signal that the West’s words are backed by action. At present, it does not look like that.
Peace and freedom can only be preserved through strong defence.
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