The world’s media reports on the complex NATO negotiations in Bucharest and those between Putin and Bush at Sochi. They covered in depth the problems of the missile shield in Central Europe, the granting of permission of non-military supplies to be sent in and out of Afghanistan and the accession of Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO.
What scarcely gets a mention however, and in fact is not mentioned by the BBC at all is that Russia has used the siting of the missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as the excuse to abandon the previous agreed limits to conventional forces.
CNN at least mentions it –
Russia, of course, sees it differently. It fears the missile sites could be turned into offensive weapon sites. In consequence, to the alarm of some NATO members, it has scrapped an agreement on conventional force levels in Europe and threatened to target missiles on countries which house missile defense installations for the U.S.
Putin played the friendly gent in Bucharest, but his nervous presentational style and awkward body language showed that the apparently cooperative stance he was taking, was not necessarily entirely genuine.
Russia Today phrases the same story with Putinian inner rage exposed – as follows –
TITLE – The ‘absolute nonsense’ of CFE treaties
The status of the CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) treaty has also been raised. Russia wants a new and ratified version to be adopted.
Putin said the current uncertainty was not caused by Russia.
“Russia has often been criticised for not being co-operative. But why should we be co-operative if national security is threatened? We did not quit the treaty on anti-missile defence. After this the old system of international relations was abandoned”.
China Today also carries some stronger anti-NATO Putin rhetoric –
NATO decided to keep its door open to Ukraine and Georgia, though it failed to launch the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for the two former Soviet republics.
Russia voiced its strong uneasiness and anger at this, as President Vladimir Putin challenged “the existence of the (military) bloc” on Friday.
He said his country did not believe that NATO’s existence was not against Russia.
The circumstances have greatly changed since its creation, he noted, “Against whom does NATO exist?” he challenged.
On the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), NATO urged Russia to return to it, while Putin said his country was ready to do so if there was a compromise from Western nations.
“We are ready to return to the treaty but expect a mutual step,” he told the NATO-Russia Council meeting on the last day of a three-day NATO summit.
Russia imposed a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) in December 2007 in protest against U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and NATO’s ongoing expansion.
For an assessment of how far Russia might in future present a military threat, see HERE. The problem will be that the EU (like the BBC) is not looking at Russia realistically, and is not maintaining the military capabilities of its main countries like France and Germany, who are exposing themselves to possible future aggression by showing themselves so unwilling to spend money or fight, as in Afghanistan.
Whatever Putin’s gameplan is, it seems that he will find his way far more easily to achieve regional dominance, because the EU and its member nations are allowing themselves to become military minnows, living in a state of make-believe about the nature of the world, believing that economic power alone will be enough. The EU is, in any case creating the next Soviet Union. It will no doubt collapse in due course as all previous international unions or empires have done in the past.
Thanks to Putin and the effect of the EU, the balance of military power in Europe will in time become extremely unequal.
Alarm bells should be ringing in Brussels, but appeasement is the prescribed course to be taken. Putin cannot believe his luck. His profession of an end to the cold war is correct. It’s not that Russia is giving up the aim of establishing international power through military means, however. It’s that the West and especially the EU is choosing not to notice.