Putin and Obama have a fundamental choice to make in their new terms: Continue "their transactional approach to relations" or "put relations in a broader, longer-term strategic framework, which could foster more enduring constructive relations." Thomas E. Graham of Kissinger Associates and Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center, write in the New York Times "Why the Reset Should Be Reset"
While I would not hold my breath that it will happen in 2013, the authors make some good arguments about common long term interests:
Continue reading "Russia as a Real Partner?"
Today is a great day for Freedom.
Today thousands of Russian protesters have demonstrated in Moscow against Vladimir Putin and demanded fresh elections and a new president. That's a bold demand, but I wish they will succeed.
25 years ago today, President Reagan made a bold demand as well, which became reality two years later. He stood in front of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War's frontline, and said: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" A big moment in transatlantic relations that deserves more appreciation. The plea sounds simple today, but was controversial back then. Former US Diplomat John Kornblum wrote a great background article. I include Reagan in the Top Five: Americans who rocked Berlin
The Russians deserve the same kind of freedom that East Germans got, when the wall fell.
Continue reading "Celebrating Freedom"
The Strategic Concept for the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon today is very concise. Just eleven pages. Let's see how substantial it is. And how it will be implemented.
At the Open Think Tank atlantic-community.org, my day job, we have created some policy recommendations for the New Strategic Concept over the summer and are currently running a Policy Workshop on Russian-Western Relations, another big issue at the Lisbon summit.
NATO features a summary of my survey of Russian experts in a special Lisbon summit edition of NATO Review, which is layouted in Portugal's national colors. Lovely!
Get ready for two busy days: The NATO summit starts tomorrow, followed by the NATO-Russia summit, followed by the EU-US summit.
President Obama started the charm offensive by naming Chancellor Merkel one of fifteen recipients of the 2010 Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor." Moreover, he published an Op-Ed in the NY Times: Europe and America, Aligned for the Future
And Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argues in Politico: Critics write obits, but NATO focuses on new threats
Do you think NATO will succeed in revitalizing itself?
Is Lisbon going to open a new chapter in NATO-Russian relations?
Are you optimistic regarding improved EU-US cooperation? Or do you expect nothing more than photo-ops?
Let us know.
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Ukraine's President-elect Viktor Yanukovych writes in the Wall Street Journal that “Ukraine Will Be a Bridge Between East and West”:
Let me say here, a Yanukovych presidency is committed to the integration of European values in Ukraine. Ukraine should make use of its geopolitical advantages and become a bridge between Russia and the West. Developing a good relationship with the West and bridging the gap to Russia will help Ukraine. We should not be forced to make the false choice between the benefits of the East and those of the West. As president I will endeavor to build a bridge between both, not a one-way street in either direction. We are a nation with a European identity, but we have historic cultural and economic ties to Russia as well. The re-establishment of relations with the Russian Federation is consistent with our European ambitions. We will rebuild relations with Moscow as a strategic economic partner. There is no reason that good relations with all of our neighbors cannot be achieved.
Can Yanukovych bridge the gap between East and West? Will he even try, or is this article simply political posturing to console those concerned about his pro-Russia stance?
Yanukovych was the most pro-Russia candidate, and has quickly sought to improve ties with Russia; he already suggested the Russian Black Sea Fleet may stay in Ukrainian waters and made clear Ukraine will not seek NATO membership. Ukraine will however continue moving toward EU membership (Businessweek).
His rival in the campaign and a leader of the 2004 western-supported Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko refuses to concede, and has requested the high court in Ukraine overturn the election results – an outcome seen as highly unlikely.
President Obama, the EU and NATO have already sent congratulations to Yanukovych.
With Yanukovych ditching NATO and seeking to improve ties to Russia and EU membership, the United States is the biggest loser from Yanukovych’s election. This outcome should not come as a surprise however: popular support in Ukraine for NATO membership has been consistently at or below 30 percent over the past few years, making NATO membership never really likely anyhow (AR forecasted this here).
With NATO membership for Ukraine never likely anyhow, perhaps the US has not lost much. In fact, Ukraine relations with the West under Yanukovych may not be much different than it has been under the Orange Revolution leadership for a few reasons:
* Ukraine will likely continue to develop a partnership with NATO, though not membership;
* Ukraine will want pragmatic and productive relations with the United States, and still seeks EU membership;
* The acceptance by international observers of Yanukovych's election and his intent to pursue EU membership both support the fact that while the Orange Revolution leadership has been voted out, the western values it respresented - a democratic and free society - are now embedded into Ukraine.
Whether or not Yanukovich can balance between the West and Russia is tough to predict. However, Yanukovich's intent to pursue this balance is likely a genuine aspiration.
A report released by the staff of Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has sparked controversy from Russia and Georgia. Titled “Striking the Balance: U.S. Policy and Stability in Georgia,” (PDF) the report argues NATO Allies need a coordinated policy toward Georgia, and suggests it should include a resumption of arms sales that halted following the 2008 Georgia-Russia war:
The United States and NATO allies must reconcile a policy that leaves a dedicated NATO partner unable to provide for its basic defense requirements. These efforts will be most effective if they are undertaken on a multilateral basis. The Alliance must come to grips with the reality that Georgia will require coordinated security support from America and European nations for some years to come.
Particularly in the realm of security assistance, such coordination is critical. While Georgia finds itself under a de facto arms embargo, other NATO allies are pursuing record military deals with the Russian Federation. Georgia has become an exceptional contributor to international security through its contributions to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. A strategy to enable Georgia to similarly provide for its own territorial defense will require close cooperation with NATO allies to preserve stability in the region.
Following the war between Georgia and Russia, both Europe and the United States have largely stopped selling lethal military equipment to Georgia. The United States has nonetheless continued training Georgian forces for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq under a program titled the “International Military Education and Training Program” (IMET), and funding appears to have increased for this training. Relatively speaking, military equipment sales to Georgia were much higher than training funding up to 2008, but have dropped to zero in 2009 (see charts based on data from the Lugar report).
Georgia has embraced the report while Russia and the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia argue arms sales to Georgia could lead to another outbreak of violence in the region.
Continue reading "Senate Report: NATO Countries Should Resume Arms Sales to Georgia"