The Ukraine Crisis and the End of the Post-Cold War European Order: Options for NATO and the EU
The Ukraine Crisis has changed European and US security policy. Irrespective of the impact the crisis will have in the short, medium and long term, the Russian intervention in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent destabilisation of eastern Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences for the following three reasons:
- It will reduce strategic warning due to Russia’s will and ability to use armed force in its neighbouring area.
- It is apparently the definitive Russian departure from the idea of a united, free Europe that began with the Helsinki Process and was realised with the integration of economies and societies after the end of the Cold War. An important element in the idea of a united, free Europe is that conflicts must be resolved by peaceful means and not by force of arms.
- It demonstrates that a number of the partnerships, etc., that have formed the foundation for EU and NATO policies, have been inadequate. Therefore, the crisis creates a need to rethink Western strategy.
In the light of this new risk, the West’s existing policy is inadequate. This does not necessarily mean that the policy hitherto has been mistaken, and it absolutely does not mean that we are facing a new Cold War. However, the West must realise that Russian governance does not have the same general goals as those of the West. Although the West can thus in the short term be content to overcome the crisis, the consequences for the European security policy framework in the medium and long term will be appreciable. These consequences will apply not least to the West itself because the crisis has revealed differences in priorities among the Western powers and challenged the world view that the West’s policy has been based on. Furthermore, the West must acknowledge that Russia is willing to use military means to accomplish its goals. This presents EU foreign policy in particular with a number of fundamental challenges and means that NATO must rethink and thoroughly reconsider its obligations under Article 5, especially with regard to the East European member states, where the Baltic States are particularly vulnerable.
In the light of the above, the report arrives at a number of recommendations:
- NATO should adopt a declaration on transatlantic solidarity, which explicitly mentions the Baltic States and is followed up by concrete initiatives such as making NATO’s Baltic Air Policing a permanent mission.
- NATO should adopt a declaration that obliges the European countries to increase their defence budgets to 2 per cent of GDP within 15 years.
- Partnerships must be reconsidered in a more dynamic form. Firstly, a clearer distinction must be made between types of partnership with particular emphasis on partnerships in neighbouring areas. Secondly, NATO must arrive at a more strategic view of how partnerships can in the long term contribute to NATO’s security by developing institutions and capacities in certain partner countries. How NATO will commit to the individual partnerships and how partnerships place partners under an obligation during crises must be made far clearer.
- A NATO-EU task force should be established, which would coordinate the policies of the two organisations with regard to Russia in order to strengthen cooperation between the organisations.
- NATO should make energy independence part of its defence planning process to give European countries a goal for the extent to which they should reduce their dependence on Russia for energy supplies. An initiative of this kind would have to be carefully coordinated with the EU.
Figure 1: Defence spending in Russia, NATO Europe and NATO USA in 2013
Figure 2: Stock market reactions to Russian occupation of Crimea, early 2014
Figure 3: Russians who believe their country is a superpower
Figure 4: Average life expectancy for Russian men 1985-2014
Figure 5: Attitudes to the Ukraine Crisis in Germany
Figure 6: European dependency on import of Russian gas in 2012