I fredags var jag inbjuden att tala på “NATO – Russia” XXIII Cracow’s security Conference. Temat för diskussionen var ”NATO’s deterrence potential – sufficient guarantee of security?”
Till övriga talare på konferensen hörde bl.a: James Appathurai, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and NATO, Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, Rob de Wijk, Director of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, Bogdan Klich, Senator of the Republic of Poland.
Mitt tal handlade huvudsakligen om hur Ryssland försöker urvattna Artikel 5, både vad gäller dess geografiska omfattning, vilka hot den omfattar och därtill önskar minska den politiska trovärdigheten i säkerhetsgarantierna.
Här följer talet.
”Check against delivery”
“NATO – Russia” XXIII Cracow’s security conference.
Panel: ”NATO’s deterrence potential – sufficient guarantee of security?”
I am honored to be with you here today.
Thank you for inviting me to make a few points on the current situation.
1. Days of Russian co-operation are over
Russia has made exit from the rules based order of inter-state relations, an order which is absolutely fundamental to our countries, and solidly based on the OSCE and UN charters.
The West must reject reborn notions of “zones of influence”, and that the political interests of a large country should be considered before the integrity of smaller states.
2. Structural deficit of predictability
Russia does its’ best to conceal the intent, aim, means and purpose of its actions. By having the Western world guessing, Russia is increasing the leverage of its actions. By having us wondering, sometimes anxiously, about what the next move will be, Russia gains in relative strength.
By not defining a preferred end state, or even what the initial problem is, Russia makes it harder for the West to draw the line, and determine when the time has come to show additional resolve.
The present state, a kind of a structural deficit of predictability, is dangerous. Even during the Cold War, the necessity of being capable to predict the opponent was recognized.
Current large scale, unannounced or not correctly announced, exercises can cover readiness up and reduce preparation time for military action.
This predictability deficit means that an accident or incident would be harder to handle today, than before. The level of risk is highly increased by uncertainty and well-motivated distrust.
Russia is operating with a high level of risk, at present. If you fly within meters of another country’s military aircraft, or a couple of hundred feet from a civilian air liner, with the transponder turned off, there are significant risks involved.
We see a pattern in Russian behavior – in the Baltic Sea Area, but also outside the coasts of Britain, Portugal, the US, and Japan.
All of this gives massive media attention, thus putting stress on our political systems. In short, we are being played. It’s done with a purpose. Even our focus on their actions is perhaps sometimes in line with their interests, but of course, it cannot and should not be avoided.
3. Non existing Russian soft power
The unacceptable use of force we have seen and see in Georgia and the Ukraine will probably not be the last examples of Russian use of military force. The present situation in and on the border to Ukraine is very concerning.
To Russia security and power – domestically and internationally – are zero-sum-games. The Kremlin wants to establish a Russian zone of influence in the self-defined near abroad, which they can’t do by using soft power. To most, there is little to no attraction in close co-operation or integration with Russia.
Power is in Russian eyes relative – if you gain, we lose. If Russia invokes an economic cost on itself for its action in the Ukraine, it might still be considered worth it, given that a greater goal is still achieved, such as keeping especially Nato out of Ukraine.
Once the path of confrontation is chosen, it is hard to turn away from it without losing face. Many conclude that Russian foreign policy is driven by internal needs, and is important for the domestic legitimacy of the Kremlin.
4. Challenge to the European Security Order
It is only too likely that Moscow considers it to be in Russian interest to further challenge the stability of the European security order, which is ultimately guaranteed by the US via Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Article 5 is not only fundamental to the security of Europe – which is one reason Sweden in my view should join NATO – but also fundamental for American interests.
Should the credibility of Article 5 be successfully challenged, or even appear to be challenged, then this would have an overwhelming effect on American influence on the global arena. Not only in Europe, but also in Asia/Pacific.
Therefore, it is of course in Americas own interest to stand firm behind the heart of Nato, Article 5.
Now I´ve come to my main points, concerning the heart of Nato, Article 5.
5. Challenge to Article 5
What then could be Russia’s intentions? Russia is challenging both the geographical scope of Article 5, as well as the type and level of threats which Article 5 is applicable on.
We have already seen examples of how the geographical scope of article 5 has been challenged.
When an Estonian officer was kidnapped inside Estonia, and brought to Moscow, this signaled a lack of respect for the border, and a wish to demonstrate that NATO is not fully protecting it. The incident occurred right after President Obama visited Estonia, which only underlined the nerve of the action. The security guarantee was reassured during his visit.
We have also seen questions about what kind of threats Article 5 actually is applicable on. How grave – and perhaps how military conventional – must a threat be to supersede the threshold for measures of common defense?
Russian 6th generation warfare seems based on the realization that a war is not always perceived as a war until it is manifested by heavy fighting in between conventional units.
Much of hybrid warfare seems designed to undershoot the traditional threshold of Article 5, and to delay countermeasures by allies and friends. Nato and the US must, in light of hybrid warfare, clearly illustrate that any and every threat invoked on any members stability, integrity and security will be considered to be of common interest, and result in appropriate common action.
Support and instigation of internal unrest and ethnic difficulties, information operations, destabilization of political systems and their key actors, the use of “little green men”, masked and unmarked special-forces, support of claimed local resistance or rebellion forces, all combined with constant denial of foreign involvement are meassures designed to stall and avoid the reactions of the out-side world.
First control over territory could be gained, or at least it could be snapped out of the rightful states control. Then, conventional forces could be brought in to hold the ground. They are preferably not visibly risked until control is already achieved.
Russia would, surely, want the geographical scope of Article 5 to be questioned or withdrawn from the Baltic States, and the type of threats it is applicable on to be limited to conventional military conflicts.
Nato should continuously mark the opposite. Allied presence on the ground is important, as is the ongoing Air operation in the Baltic States.
6. Tactical nuclear warheads
Russia is trying to increase the perceived price of Western action, again to water Article 5 down. It is no coincidence that Russian officials repeatedly talks about Russia’s nuclear capability. In this sense, we probably should worry more about tactical warheads than Russia’s strategic capabilities.
The tactical warheads are numerous, they are spread out geographically and there might be a risk that the threshold for their use is lower. A risk lies in possible political extortion. The underlying message would be, if the West acts to defend an Eastern European nation it must be prepared for a nuclear reaction. One should, however, recognize that even Western fear of this would be in Russia’s interest.
The message is designed to plant questions within Nato – are you prepared to lose a city or thousands of deployed soldiers to defend an ally? So again, the Russian action is aimed at the heart of Nato, the credibility of Article 5.
The doctrines of Nato and the Member States with nuclear capabilities perhaps need to be refreshed and articulated. The bottom line is, Article 5 must stand.
7. Russian objective to affect the security policy of Europe
Russia is trying to intimidate several countries in Europe, by violating their air space, borders and generally by acting recklessly. The Russian motive is to affect the security policy of the countries concerned.
It is clear, that one Russian goal is to prevent US influence in general and specifically NATO enlargement. But all nations have the solemn right and obligation to determine their own security policy.
It is crucial that NATO remains open for enlargement and important that some partner countries – such as Sweden – applies for membership in NATO. A push for split and division of the West should result in the opposite, a more united West.
Russian attempts to replace Europe’s united approach to foreign policy through CFSP, with select bilateral co-operation must be rejected. Relations must not be bi-lateralized.
Russia is clearly conventionally weaker than the West. Russia´s defense spending is about 1/7 of US defense spending. But Russia has shown a readiness for using its growing military capability, against smaller neighbors. The fact that the Russian economy is plunging should not put us at ease. When countries with democratic deficiencies face internal pressure they have historically sometimes tended to be adventures.
Russia must therefore gain leverage by acting – in European perspective – irrational or unpredictable. It needs to use a broad scale of possible means – much more than military – to achieve political goals.
Part of the answer is building military capabilities in Europe, but key it is show of political unity and determination.