European security architecture: the opportunity for cooperation or the risk of confrontation?
Зосимова М. П. European security architecture: the opportunity for cooperation or the risk of confrontation? // Молодой ученый. 2016. №14. С. 493-496.
Ключевые слова:европейская безопасность, НАТО, Россия, Соединенные Штаты, внешняя политика России, отношения Россия-НАТО, совет Россия-НАТО
The events of the past two years — that is, Ukrainian crisis, growing terrorist activity in some European states and unprecedented influx of people seeking refuge, distinctly demonstrate inadequacy and, in fact, crisis of the existing European security architecture. The state of modern «NATO-centric European security»  is mainly defined by the state of NATO-Russian relations, which, along with the dialogue between the Russian Federation and the European Union, leaves a lot to be desired.
Current phase of crisis dated back to February-March 2014 (the beginning of the Ukrainian events) is a predictable outcome of the Russia-US (and its allies) post- Cold War relations evolution. Despite the attempts to build friendly mutual relations as evidenced by Russian engagement in NATO’s activities (the creation of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council in 1997, which provided a forum for consultations and cooperation ., in 2002 it was replaced by the NATO-Russia Council , that until recently remained an effective mechanism for consultation, consensus-building, cooperation, joint decision and joint action), the sidesfailed to agree on common approaches to the understanding of some fundamental concepts. Thus, the notion of «indivisible security», that according to the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation (1997) and Rome Declaration (2002) is one of the principles NATO-Russia relations are based on, is definitely interpreted in different ways.
Moreover, the Russian Federation and the US disagree on the construction of contemporary world order . They still have not reached consensus on the issue and are trying to define whether a unipolar or polycentric post-Cold War system of international relations is emerging. The United States and Russia also view the role of the latter in new world order differently. Furthermore, they have different opinions regarding the definitions of such concepts as «sovereignty», «legitimacy», «intervention and interference in the internal affairs of states» etc. The US actions in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya have demonstrated differences in the definition of the state sovereignty boundaries and the reasons for the application of the «the responsibility to protect» concept. The combination of such profound contradictions has led to the current crisis in Russia and NATO relations, whereas the situation in Ukraine accelerated rising tensions between Russia and the Alliance.
The current state of European security architecture is characterized by a departure from the basic principles of relations between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Thus, for instance, NATO and Russia claim that they do not consider each other as adversaries . But at the same time, the updated United States European Command Theater Strategy says that a revanchist Russia, along with mass migration from other regions, cyber-attacks, the lingering negative effects from a global financial crisis and underfunded defense budgets, jeopardizes European security system and constitutes a threat to allies and partners of the US in different regions . Likewise, build-up of NATO forces, intensification of its members’ military activities, further expansion of the Alliance, and approximation of its military infrastructure to the Russian borders are considered to be the threats to Russia's national security in the latest version of the Russian National security doctrine 
Thereby, NATO is striving to increase its military presence in Europe, especially in Estern Europe , in order to «deter Russian aggression» , assuming that the reduction of the US presence in the region has reduced its ability to guarantee security for its allies. Decisions taken on the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July 2016 — the Alliance agreed to station battalions of approximately 1000 multinational troops each in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on a rotational basis — demonstrate member-states‘ continuous fixation on a «threat from the East». It was also decided to keep developing NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capability in Europe . Moreover, the Alliance continues to render support to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, it has formally invited Montenegro to become the 29-th member of NATO  and signed the document for Montenegro’s accession to the organization at a meeting in Brussels.
In its turn, the Russian government perceives such actions as a violation of the principle of indivisible security (which is understood by the Russian Federations as the unacceptability of actions aimed at ensuring one’s own security at the expense of other participants of international relations) and a threat to the country’s national security and reacts accordingly. Thus, the representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared. That the start of Montenegro’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is viewed in Moscow as an openly confrontational step, fraught with additional destabilization for the Euro-Atlantic security and that a new round of the Alliance expansion directly affects Russian national interests causing an appropriate response . As a counter-move, Russia might deploy tactical ballistic missile system «Iskander-M» in Kaliningrad.
This situation is a clear illustration of the «security dilemma», when any action of the opposite side is perceived as a threat to one’s own interests. A similar situation was quite common for the Cold War period. However, the major difference between the present situation and the situation of that time is the lack of arms race (NATO members are not willing to increase their defense spending. The majority of the European members of the organization do not fulfill the 2 % requirement, enshrined in the Strategic concept 2010 ), since despite the periodic escalation of tensions between Russia and NATO, the Alliance still does not strive to move to full-scale confrontation with the nuclear power . The refusal of North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to supply Ukraine with lethal offensive weapons, the lack of NATO military forces and military formations of the Alliance members in the country; statements by the representatives of the European Union  and NATO  about the impossibility of Ukraine's accession to the organizations in the near future indicate reluctance to escalate relations with Russia even further.
Furthermore, the incident with the Russian Su-24M bomber aircraft shot down by Turkey showed how real the danger of military confrontation between NATO and Russia is. After this incident Washington decided in favor of deeper cooperation with Moscow. The desire to avoid open confrontation launched the process of political settlement of the conflict in Syria, the outcome of which was the cease-fire agreement. It is also worth mentioning that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Alliance is not seeking «confrontation with Russia» and in order to avoid military incidents and to keep channels for political contact and dialogue open the Alliance has made a decision to resume the procedure of convening NATO-Russia Council meetings for engagement with Russia . The first in almost two years Russia-NATO Council meeting was held on April 20, but failed to yield any significant results.
Summing up, it should be noted that the current crisis in relations between Russia and NATO is of systemic nature and due to fundamentally divergent views of the two parties on the world order structure and the existing rules of the game. In this situation, there are both opportunities for cooperation (for example, in the settlement of the Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts), and the risks of escalation of tensions between the Alliance and Russia (a vivid example is Turkey's actions at the end of November 2015). At the moment there are no significant practical steps taken by NATO (apart from the resumption of the Russia-NATO Council functioning), aimed at the restoration of the former relationship. But there is a tendency to avoid confrontation in relations with Russia. Most likely, such «status quo» will remain at least until the US presidential election, whereas further development of the dialogue between the Alliance and Russia will mainly be determined by the course of the new American administration. Nevertheless, regardless of the next United States president’s policy and course of action, constructive relations between NATO and Russia will not be possible until the parties come to a common understanding of the structure of the world order and develop acceptable «rules of the game».
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