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NATO's noisy messages that stun the Kremlin


Highlights: NATO summit in Vilnius exposed disturbing growth of the Atlantic Alliance. It elevated Ukraine as an active virtual partner, added Sweden and wrote the epitaph of the Russian war adventure. Putin has thus been the unwitting partner of Western hawks who see China as the enemy to beat and have done the necessary gymnastics with the absurd war on Ukraine. The East-West clash that defines the whole picture is the war itself, not strictly the sufferings of Ukraine. That difference is important. The conflict exhibits a diversity of dimensions that concentrate the attention of the East- west axis.

The summit exposed the disturbing growth of the Atlantic Alliance, which elevated Ukraine as an active virtual partner, added Sweden and wrote the epitaph of the Russian war adventure.

In the Middle Ages, next to the throne of the monarch emerged a figure of theatrical clumsy attitude, ridiculously dressed and who made sharp jokes with what he heard or intuited. Those daring sarcasms of the jester of the jester said in solfa what the king's pimps did not dare.

It would be interesting to know if Vladimir Putin has such an assistant. In that case, I would whisper in his ear that the war adventure in Ukraine no longer has the destiny it supposed to and its epitaph has just been carved by the recent NATO summit in Vilnius.

While a tribe of analysts and observers entertain themselves in discussing whether or not Ukraine should join the Atlantic Alliance and whether it is good or bad for it to do so, the organization, which is an extension of the rebuilt power of the US, has made the European country a visible member of the body.

"To be or not to be is not relevant," says President Joe Biden about a fact that he says his Ukrainian colleague Volodimir Zelenski is clear. Virtuality counts.

For that conclusion it is not necessary to read the fine print on article 5 of the military structure that requires joint action if a member is attacked. That device is what prevents the hierarchy of Ukraine as the 33rd member of the club that reigned in the Cold War. If this formal step were taken, NATO would have to pounce on Russia.

It is easy to establish the tactical futility that such a movement would have. The important thing to note, and burdensome for Russia, instead, is that the organization turned that impediment into an exercise in imagination. That is why Ukraine already operates as part of NATO. Without card. No need, Biden says.

As if clarifications were needed, the Alliance announced the creation of a Permanent Council that unites NATO members with Ukraine "at the level of equals" to discuss war and post-war. Zelenski's protests over the absence of a timetable for joining the Alliance remain for the anecdote of political speeches.

Volodymyr Zelensky at the NATO summit in Vilnius. Photo Reuters

The East-West clash

The meaning that defines the whole picture is the war itself, not strictly the sufferings of Ukraine. That difference is important. The conflict exhibits a diversity of dimensions that concentrate the attention of the East-West axis, which is waging the real dispute over Ukrainian territory.

In the process, the war rescued the U.S. from its strategic dispersion and placed the fateful fate of the Russian offensive in a mere matter of time, unfailing. That is perhaps why internal outbreaks such as the recent mutiny of the paramilitaries against Putin's castle.

The twilight of the stage has just been painted in a brutal way by the first July edition of The Economist with a face of Putin on the cover disintegrating in pieces and the dead left ear, fallen on the shoulder. It is what the jester would shout at the Russian tsar.

The Western Alliance, meanwhile, has grown like a formidable military machine targeting the main arena of the dispute for world hegemony in the Asia-Pacific. Putin has thus been the unwitting partner of Western hawks who see China as the enemy to beat and have done the necessary gymnastics with the absurd war on Ukraine.

In Vilnius, by the way, the special guests were Japan, Australia, South Korea and New Zealand. China's rivals in the Asia-Pacific, the space that the power claims as untouchable.

This edition of the NATO summit celebrated Sweden's accession. A step that cuts Russia off some control for its fleet in the Baltic Sea. Peter the Great, in whose mirror the disproportionate Russian leader looks, gained that dominance three centuries ago after a 21-year war. With that victory he turned his homeland into an empire. Today I would reproach Putin for the suicidal imprudence of carrying the clocks so far back.

The Swedish membership was obtained with the endorsement of the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the influential crony of the Russian leader who exchanged the agreement in exchange for a renewed fleet of fighters and some concessions from Stockholm against the Kurdish community based in that country. It also operated the eventual reopening of Ankara's chance to enter the European Union.

A few months ago Finland was integrated by doubling the border of the Alliance against Russia. A geopolitical scenario that, due to its significant provocative character, was unimaginable two years ago, but that has now been configured on the back of the warrior madness in Ukraine.

Valdimir Putin, remarks to state television. Photo Reuters

These new NATO partners advocated for decades a pragmatic neutrality, behavior that suited Moscow. The abrupt strategic shift, however, leaves the Kremlin surrounded. That ordering power that the conflict has had also outlines the future.

Ukraine will no longer be what it was. The birth of a new Israel is foreseen, a concept of security and assistance that even Biden wields (Israel is together with Egypt the country that has received the most military aid from the US in recent history).

Western support, even beyond post-war reconstruction, aims to consolidate a wall against Russian nationalism humiliated by this nightmare, but which will not disappear.

The question of why Russia could not anticipate this outcome recognizes complex answers. There is a condition of decadence that helps explain failed behavior of the powers. In the case of the Federation, a non-central but significant fact has been the historical lack of definition about its belonging to Asia or Europe.

Europe or Asia

That debate, which reached political and academic intensity after the end of the communist camp, ended up blocked by the authoritarian deviation of the regime. But it led the country into a limbo from which other societies escaped with greater clarity about their foundations, China, the most accurate example. Peter the Great, by the way, was pro-European.

This discussion about the sphere of belonging has exhibited important extremes such as that of Putin's political father, former President Boris Yeltsin, who ruled by leaps and bounds between '91 and '99.

This controversial leader was the one who saved the glasnot and perestroika opening built by his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev. As early as 1993, he had raised with Bill Clinton his interest in planting Russia in NATO, even knowing that the triumphant power of the Cold War was advancing relentlessly on the spoils of the Soviet Union.

Along these lines, Yeltsin supported the so-called Founding Act of Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the Atlantic Alliance of May 27, 1997.

That key document signed in Paris, not Moscow, with the presence of the Russian leader and President Clinton under the watchful eye of host Jacques Chirac, transmuted Russia into a kind of postwar Germany.

"This Act reaffirms the determination of Russia and NATO to realize their common commitment to build a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, a Europe whole and free, for the benefit of all its peoples," it said. A European Russia.

The best known image of the mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin, commander of the Wagner paramilitary group. AP Photo

A year after the entry in 1999 of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the Alliance, Putin, then in the vice presidency, did not rule out following the path of his boss. "I don't see why not," he told the BBC when asked about Russian membership in NATO. "I would not rule out such a possibility, but I repeat, as long as Russia's views are taken into account as those of an equal partner." There was no opportunity to check it.

This year Putin will visit Beijing, possibly in October, to ask for help and assume a dependence on the Asian power that seems irreversible. The ruble lost 40 percent of its value last year and the gap between spending and revenue widened as the conflict narrowed.

The difficulty for Chinese leaders is that the costs of this nightmare outweigh the gains the war could promise in terms of colonization by Russia or build a brake on Moscow's ambitions at Moscow's expense. Initial doubts explain that the decision to support Putin was not unanimous.

The Kremlin is likely to seek to take advantage of the swamp it has built because the worst deal for Chinese leaders would be to contribute to Western victory by withdrawing the Russian leader's hand. At the same time, Beijing is clear about the hassles that the board shows and its dangerous drifts.

He has just warned against any "move to the East and Asia-Pacific of NATO" and repudiated the "Cold War mentality" that effectively exhibits the statements of the Western leadership. That's what it's all about. The last to be surprised should be the heirs of the thousand-year-old Asian power.
© Copyright Clarín 2023

See also

Joe Biden says Vladimir Putin "has already lost the war" in Ukraine

Yevgeny Prigozhin "is dead or in a prison, somewhere"

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-07-15

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