Remarks by Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov at the 33rd International Workshop on Global Security. Paris, 7 November 2016
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are meeting at a time when volatility of the security situation in Europe has become the new norm. What started as a domestic crisis in Ukraine has developed into a full-scale Western policy of deterrence against Russia, backed up by economic sanctions, cutoff of numerous channels of regular dialogue and information warfare. Elements of a military bloc, whose collective defence spending outnumbers Russia’s by a ratio of 17 to 1, have been deployed directly to my country’s borders.
I will not mince words. These actions are changing military reality on the ground. They are reducing political options for reengagement at a time when our common interests dictate that our nations stand together in tackling terrorism and instability in the Middle East and North Africa.
Take the Baltics, which since the 1990s have been largely a militarily benign region – to the extent that back in 1999 they were even excluded for that reason from the area of application of the adapted CFE Treaty. Now, as a result of the ongoing NATO build-up, they inevitably will be regarded by us as a potential military theater with its risks and threats. Consequently, our armed forces will need to adapt to decisions of the NATO Warsaw summit regarding the so-called “continuous military presence” in the region. The same applies to other cases of NATO hyperactivity along our borders: a fourfold increase of NATO Baltic air patrols, forays of US cruise missile destroyers in the vicinity of Kaliningrad and Crimea or the largest NATO war games since 1989 “Anaconda-2016”.
The unprecedented militarisation of the so-called “Eastern flank” is, in my view, hardly a cause for self-congratulatory assertions by NATO officials. Maybe some modesty would have been helpful. Because, in my view, NATO actions basically confirm what we have been saying all along – that there is indeed an acute and systemic crisis of the European security architecture.
This leads me to my next point. The crisis, in our view, did not start with Ukraine, just as NATO’s military outstretch into its “Eastern flank” did not start with the Wales or Warsaw summits. Its origins lie in the fateful decisions taken in the mid-90s that, in our view, favoured the eastward proliferation of NATO-centric security arrangements over a more concerted effort to construct an inclusive Euroatlantic security platform under the auspices of the OSCE. This process, while unhelpful on its own, was compounded by steps that have over time resulted in a significant erosion of the legal framework of European security.
This year, for example, marked the activation of the American SM-3 missile and radar site in Romania. I think I don’t need to remind you that it was back in 2002 when the US walked out of the 1972 ABM Treaty and embarked on its controversial ballistic missile defence projects in Eastern Europe. Our attempts to convince our US partners to engage in this work together in a constructive spirit fell on deaf ears. The US kept substantiating its actions by citing the need to shield its European Allies from the “Iranian missile threat”. By now, especially after the conclusion of the Iranian nuclear deal last year, these arguments have become as renowned as Colin Powell’s famous vial of white powder. By the way, whenever I hear yet another media piece, which speaks of “mounting evidence” against Russia, that vial is the first thing that comes to mind.
Likewise, when today NATO officials bemoan the absence of formidable arms control arrangements in Europe, they have only themselves to thank. It has after all been a concerted NATO position since 1999 to link the ratification of the adapted CFE Treaty to the resolution of protracted conflicts outside Russia’s borders. Russia did ratify that treaty, by the way, and so did Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
The list goes on. Numerous opportunities have been wasted. Just think of Russian ideas on OSCE reform, the European Security Treaty or, closer to the Russia-EU context, the Meseberg initiative. But the bottom line is this. Today the relationship between Russia and the West is increasingly held hostage by regional crises – first in Ukraine, now in Syria. But these differences should not obscure the underlying fundamental problem, namely the structural deficits of the European security architecture. Almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War, in spite of the absence of former ideological barricades, we continue to inhabit a continent of dividing lines, uneven levels of security and confrontational military planning. Mushrooming superiority complexes are, apparently, preventing some of us from hearing each other out and having faith, at least, in the reality of our interests and concerns. An “outlast” mentality is taking hold. Some are deluding themselves into thinking that the other side is on a waning path economically, demographically and politically, and that consequently time is working in their favour. As trust has plummeted suppression of dissent and “witch hunts” for supposed Russian sympathizers are back in vogue.
Make no mistake. These problems are political in nature. They cannot be resolved through purely military decisions on enhancing one’s own resilience or capabilities for force projection. A negotiated political solution needs to be identified, which, in our view, should be based on international law, respect legitimate mutual interests and ensure the indivisibility of security for all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok in line with the 1999 Istanbul Charter for European Security. Either that or we may continue to “sleepwalk” towards new intended and unintended risks and challenges in our relations.
Today’s distinguished audience is well-positioned (and hopefully well-prepared) to manage the necessary wake-up call and shift our discussions from a pattern of mutual recriminations to a genuine and honest dialogue. I will conclude by thanking the organisers for providing an opportunity for that.