8 Tuesday, February, 2022 — Moon of Alabama
The ongoing scuffle over Russia’s and China’s efforts to rearrange the global order continues
The recent Chinese Russian statement made it look as if Russia has completely turned its back to Europe and is now locked into an Eurasian destiny with China, Iran and the Central Asian states. That however does not seem to be Russia’s understanding.
A man who has Putin’s ear, Professor Sergey Karaganov who is the honorary chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, has written an op-ed that points to an alternative.
The piece was requested by and supposed to be published in the Financial Times, which means that it is directed at the European leadership. But the FT has now rejected it for unstated reasons. It was then published in the Russia in Global Affairs journal and has now been re-published by RT.
Russia will not invade the Ukraine, Karaganov writes. The real issue at hand is the potential threat that NATO may become for Russia should it come nearer to Russia’s border.
He then states:
The security system in Europe, built largely by the West after the 1990s, without a peace treaty having been signed after the end of the previous Cold War, is dangerously unsustainable.
There are a few ways to solve the narrow Ukrainian problem, such as its return to permanent neutrality, or legal guarantees from several key NATO countries not to ever vote for further expansion of the bloc. Diplomats, I assume, have a few others up their sleeves. We do not want to humiliate Brussels by insisting on repudiating its erroneous plea for the open-ended expansion of NATO. We all know the end of the Versailles humiliation. And, of course, the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
But the task is wider: to build a viable system on the ruins of the present. And without resorting to arms, of course. Probably in the wider Greater Eurasian framework. Russia needs a safe and friendly Western flank in the competition of the future. Europe without Russia or even against it has been rapidly losing its international clout. That was predicted by many people in the 1990s, when Russia offered to integrate with, not in, the continent’s systems. We are too big and proud to be absorbed. Our pitch was rejected then, but there is always a chance it won’t be this time.
That last paragraph is quite astonishing.
“Russia needs a safe and friendly Western flank in the competition of the future.”
Russia just allied with China.
What “competition of the future” does Karaganov envision that would necessitate a “friendly western flank” for Russia? That “competition” would be in the east or south from Russia? With whom?
Is Karaganov thinking of a U.S. vs. China conflict that would necessitate Russian support for China?
In the late 1990s Russia indeed tried to integrate with Europe, NATO or a follow up organization. That was rejected by the U.S. which did not want another big dog among its pack of European ankle-biters.
But what Karaganov seems to envision now is an integration of Russia with Europe without U.S. involvement.
That is certainly something the French President Macron would also like to see. France has long insisted on European sovereignty including in defense matters. German’s chancellor Scholz would likewise agree with it. As would other west-European countries.
This especially after the U.S. president arrogantly asserted power over a German-Russian economic project the U.S. no relation with. This even while Chancellor Scholz, standing next him, avoided to make any commitment in that regard:
PRESIDENT BIDEN: The first question first. If Germany — if Russia invades — that means tanks or troops crossing* the — the border of Ukraine again — then there will be — we — there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.
Q: But how will you — how will you do that exactly, since the project and control of the project is within Germany’s control?
PRESIDENT BIDEN: We will — I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.
Such talk alone should be reason enough for Germany to leave NATO and to kick the remaining U.S. troops out of its country.
But to set up an alternative organization is not easy. The current European Union structures in Brussels do not allow for doing that under an EU umbrella. A new alliance of France, German, Spain and maybe Italy could be a decent start to then integrate with Russia. That would certainly also attract other European NATO members though some eastern European countries would probably lag because of their historic Russia phobia.
That all may look to be far outside of the current horizon. But we should remember that it was a U.S. president who just five years ago considered to leave NATO.
Karaganov may be onto something and the European capitals should start to think about it.
* Biden seems to be fine with the Russian long range artillery and airforce action should the Ukraine dare to attack its rebellious Donbas region. Good, as that is likely what Russia has planned to do.