Thursday, May 30, 2024

Is the West finally afraid of Putin?

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Diplomat Magazine
Diplomat Magazine
DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands. Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. "Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions." Dr. Mayelinne De Lara, Publisher

By  Eleni-Vasiliki Bampaliouta

For Russia, Ukraine is not just any other country. It is intertwined with its history and culture. The Russians converted to Christianity in Kiev and the first Russian state was born there. From a geopolitical point of view, the possible transformation of Ukraine into an anti-Russian bastion of NATO cannot be accepted by Moscow in any case, because it is considered unacceptable both in terms of history and ethnic presence of the Russians and in terms of security and geopolitical balance in Europe.

The United States, with Biden’s current policies, is returning to the old American policy of the 1990s and seeking to further marginalize and degrade Russia as a superpower and US geopolitical rival to a regional power in Eurasia. They believe that this project is possible, with the cooperation of Europeans. They therefore oppose the development of any European cooperation strategy with Russia, such as the Nord Stream II pipeline, believing that the development of a strategic cooperation with Russia undermines Europe-US geopolitical unity and strengthens Russia.

The division of the countries of the European Union

An ally of this American policy is the “New Europe”, the countries of Eastern Europe, which, due to their historical past, are supporters of an Atlantic anti-Russian policy. These countries are predominantly Poland and the Baltic states, which, for its own reasons, Romania also takes part. This scenario is reinforced by the apparent change in Finnish policy, which is tacitly abandoning traditional neutrality and approaching NATO, on the occasion of its accession to the European Union. Neighboring Sweden is doing the same, where strong anti-Russian sentiment is also being expressed and stepping up its armaments efforts.

In this context, the overthrow of Yanukovych in Ukraine and the establishment of a pro-Western regime, which wants to lead Ukraine to the European Union and NATO, has sounded the alarm in Moscow, which can in no way accept Ukraine’s accession to NATO, which rightly, after all, is an anti-Russian coalition.

With this data, the different position of the “old” Europe is obvious, with the main speakers being Germany, France and Italy, from the position of the Atlanteans and the USA. The US position, as expressed in the AUKUS Agreement (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada), is aimed at a policy of double restraint, directed against China and Russia. The practical application of this dual restraint poses a problem in Europe, which lacks the necessary unity and coherence to articulate its own policy, as an independent pole of power, but finds that if it aligns with tough American policy, it risks not only to lose any strategic autonomy but also to suffer a huge blow to its economies and prospects.

Religious conflict

The balance was upset by the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to recognize the Ukrainian Church in Kiev as self-governing. This act, which is unquestionably connected with the geopolitics of Orthodoxy, despite the invoked Ecclesiastical principles, greatly annoyed Moscow and the Russian Church. They saw in this move of the Ecumenical Patriarchate a decision manipulated by the Americans, which aims to cut off the Church of Ukraine from the Russian Church in order to deepen the separation of Ukraine from Russia. The Russian Church considers the blow much deeper and unacceptable because it touches on the very beginnings of Russian Christianity, which took place in Kiev.

The existing difficulties of the four major countries of Europe

First, as France is in a pre-election period. The country currently holds the presidency of the European Union. So his diplomatic moves on the issue will be used in the coming months as a weapon against the opposition in order for Emmanuel Macron to win the French presidential election again.

Second, Italy has fought three times for a stable political life. So one cannot say that they are going through the best period. Everything can be made fragile at any time. They have also had huge financial problems for several years.

Thirdly, Germany has just changed Chancellor. So the difference with Merkel is the stability she left in her country. But this does not mean that he will stay with the new one. Another very important fact is that Germany is more than 50% dependent on cheap Russian gas. The construction of the Nord Stream II pipeline shows that Germany, no matter how pioneering it is in supporting the green energy perspective for the future, knows that its secure energy supply has been linked to gas for many decades to come.

The supply of gas from Russia is obviously not unilateral for Germany. It is offset by exports and investments in Russia. These economic data explain the reluctance and discomfort of the German side and its reluctance to align with the harsh American policy, which could lead to a complete rupture and put Germany in a difficult position. German industrialists, like the Italians, rushed to send delegations to Moscow and make it clear that they were opposed to a policy of rupture and sanctions, for which European industry would pay a very high price.

Finally, as a fourth point, reference should be made to the anti-Russian behavior of the United Kingdom. The fluid political landscape created by Prime Minister Johnson himself, the internal war that has already begun, gives the impression that perhaps in a short time it can be replaced. Scandals such as the “partygate”, problems and resignations of government officials, the wrong policy on the issue of the Covid-19 and his choice to persuade the citizens to leave Britain from the European Union highlight a fragile political situation.

Dangers inside Ukraine

The recession that has been achieved, with great effort, is fragile, because the opposing forces that exist and push towards rupture and conflict are very strong. The greatest danger comes from inside Ukraine, where uncontrollable and extreme forces are operating. For this reason, calculated challenges can be taken, with the naivety that the Russian intervention was allegedly avoided due to the firm position of the USA and the fear of sanctions. An example of such a challenge is the artillery shelling of Donetsk airport.

Putin’s Russia

In any case, the divided big European countries are unlikely to be allowed to enter a new round of the Cold War, which could easily turn into a hot one, due to the fact that Ukraine is a country in Russia’s strategic court, for which last can not retreat beyond a red line. There are, unfortunately, many in the circle of the American President who confuse Yeltsin’s Russia with Putin’s Russia with an unprecedented anti-Russian hysteria. Putin managed, from the wreckage left by his predecessor, to restore Russia’s military power and restore its international standing and prestige. It will not allow its further strategic reversal today, which would even endanger its security. It is a fact that determines any discussions on the issue of Ukraine.

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