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Strategic and Defense Policies of India Post Ladakh Clash with China

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India shares a disputed border with China in Ladakh region which regularly faces transgressions from People’s Liberation Army(PLA) of China. The current stalemate of China-India began at the banks of Pangong Tso lake. The major portion seventy percent of this lake belongs to China and the rest belongs to India. This lake is of tactical significance for the Chinese. China has now been working on the project to build a developed infrastructure and to ensure the speedy build-up of troops in and around this lake. Chinese invasions in this locale are pointed toward moving the Line of Actual Control (LAC) towards the west, empowering them to possess key statures both on the north and the south of the lake and conceding them advantage over the Chushul Bowl. Up until now, the main motive of the PLA has been to watch the Indian side of the LAC. The Chinese and Indian troops have been engaged in a massive face-off and confrontation with each other at the Sino-Indian border including the Pangong Tso lake and Galwan valley. This border dispute has been the deadliest between both the nations for the first time after more than four decades.

STRATEGIC POLICIES OF INDIA

India has well record perspective on this border issue but there is very little discussion on the bilateral nuclear relationship. According to the findings India gave serious attention to China’s nuclear policy while Chinese have somewhat reluctant views about nuclear weapons while considering China- India relations. China and India have their own defensive strategies but their civilian governments are not accepting the importance of avoiding nuclear conflicts. The tampering effects of economic interdependence of both countries is dwindling the no first use of nuclear weapons policy and is facing an internal prob. China wants to put an end to this massive war but strategically it is way far from the negotiations which is clear from their non- escalating statements and is marked a low in bilateral talks.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured his nation that retaliation is inevitable for the killing of Indian soldiers. Meanwhile, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also claimed that China is not in the control of his country’s territory. However, this looks like a surrender to the new harsh reality for India in the Galwan valley and Pangong lake where the People’s Liberation Army of China has established its positions now which did not existed previously before may. This statement by the Prime Minister could encourage China to persue additional small gains across the Line of control(LAC). India has also criticized the Belt and Road Initiative of China and it has also withdrawn from the Asia-wide Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership over the increasing Chinese dominance. Such an approach would stamp a significant takeoff from India’s customary fixation on ensuring its strategic autonomy.

As India has realized the dominance of China in military and economic sector in the south Asian region, it’s now demanding for hardliners Hindutva supremacists to negotiate for peace. The rise of RSS which is an Indian right wing and Narendra Modi in the political map of India has transformed the foreign policy of India on more aggressive terms. RSS and Modi have promoted the image of the nation as a superpower in the region which has been blindly accepted by the common citizens of India and it is nothing but an fallacious domestic perception. The Indian Prime Minister is having a Hyper nationalistic approach in the current scenario which is humiliating the nation of India and it is also formidable for Indians to accept military weakness of the nation and also its strategic limitations. Today, Modi has been trapped by the Populist- nationalist defender of Bharat Mata. This has limited his options to a large extent.

Strategically India is looking to develop a long term coherent national strategy which is realistically achievable within countries material and technological constraints. Once India is able to form such strategy India must move boldly and dynamically to secure a network of Global alliances. This strategy will include economic, technical and military support from these alliances which will work for mutual defense. The Indian policy makers should also look to consider Ladakh’s geostrategic location, delicate environment, asset possibilities and the aspirations of the people of Ladakh. India should also consider the advantages of investing the locals in the safeguard of Ladakhi border. Furthermore India is also looking to maximize its ability to partner with ideologically similar nations like US, Western Europe to gain their support for the development and innovation of Indian infrastructure and also for the technology exchange.

China is now viewed as a neighbor whose actions are inimical to India’s interests post the recent clash. The Anti-China sentiments are growing rapidly in Indian public. This has gotten manifest in calls to blacklist Chinese items and even stop the trade with China, and sometimes even has brought about open displays of unloading Chinese products. India has sought after some financial reprisal, forbidding 59 Chinese applications on information security grounds. It is likely soon to banish Chinese organizations from other worthwhile open doors in its tremendous market. Yet, given India’s reliance on Chinese imports including drugs, car parts and central processor extreme limitations could add up to removing its nose to show disdain toward its face. India however have two strategic options one is that it should bow down before China or the other is that it should align itself with a broader international alliance in order to curb the geopolitical ambitions of China in the South Asian region. However, despite its Prime Minister Narendra Modi apparent policy of capitulation it is believed that India will go for the latter approach in future.

India will likewise likely hope to assemble more noteworthy collaboration through designs, for example, the “Quad in addition to” (extending the current gathering of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States to incorporate New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam). India is now looking for a partnership with the US that will go beyond arm sales, technology exchange, intelligence-sharing and is going towards deepening bilateral security ties. The Trump administration views India as a key geostrategic player and considers India as a partner in building out its Indo-Pacific strategy because it considers India as a growing power both in military and economic sector having the capacity to counter balance China along with US. This alliance with US will help out India a lot in order to deal with China in near future.

DEFENSE POLICIES OF INDIA

After the recent clashes with China over Ladakh region India has made some significant defense policies. The Indian Army and Air Force along India’s Ladakh border with China have been put on high alert post the deadliest clash between the two countries. According to  a report the Indian Navy was also put on high alert in the Indian ocean as well. On the LAC, the Indian Army’s 81 and 114 Brigades are conveyed to restrict the Chinese powers on Daulat Beg Oldi and connecting jurisdictions. The government of India has given hold   to the military to make  necessary acquisitions to load up its war reserves in the wake of raising clash with China along the Line of Actual Control. The Indian Navy has also been given the thumbs up to convey its resources close to the Malacca Strait and, if necessary, elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific to counter Chinese activity in the region. The Indian Air Force corps resources, including the fighters too, also have been moved up to advance areas in the Ladakh region. The government of India has also asked the Chief of defense staff General Bipin Rawat coordinate with the three defense services to make necessary amendments which are required for the betterment of defense sector.

Why India changed the rules of engagement?

Almost 50,000 soldiers of the Indian Army are sent in a high condition of battle status in different hilly areas in eastern Ladakh in freezing temperatures. Under the previous rules of engagement, according to the agreements signed in 1986 and 2005 neither of the sides opens fire on the other .The rules of engagement have been changed at the Line of Control(LAC) by Narendra Modi post the recent clash between Chinese and Indian troops. According to the previous rules of engagement certain restrictions were imposed on the soldiers and now the Indian government had informed the Chinese about it at both military and diplomatic levels. The Indian army commanders have been given full freedom to put in use any of the instrument under his command for the tactical operations after any kind of aggression from the other side. The Indian government has a clear stance that it will not compromise with the integrity and sovereignty of the country. India will counter forcefully any kind of violence or misstep from the Chinese side. Reacting to the new rules of engagement by India, Xijin the editor in chief of Chinese government’s mouthpiece global times tweeted,“ If true, this is a genuine infringement of the agreement, and the Indian side will follow through on a hefty cost for any such activity”

In July, following the China-India conflict in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh that saw the passing of 20 Indian officers mid- June, the Indian Army was accounted for to have sought after 100 agreements for emergency procurement of weapons and supplies including ammo for fundamental fight tanks, man-compact air protection frameworks, just as Israeli-made Heron observation drones   with each agreement covered at  5 billion Indian rupees. The Indian military forces have maintained that the political leadership of India is  assuming China to be a long term strategic threat till the onset of crisis in Ladakh region. Such emergency measures understandably also highlight the never ending problems with India’s defense acquisition and planning. Modi is making public statements and is also visiting the border front at Ladakh region. However, this does not compensate for the insufficiently equipped Indian army.

The Indian security analysts  are also having  serious  focus to China’s nuclear policy and capabilities because India’s native military technologies are significantly behind the military capabilities of China. As the U.S- China competition intensifies it is of great advantage to India as India will look to strengthen its defense technology cooperation with U.S and it will also result in change geopolitical landscape of the Indo-Pacific region.  On the other hand, India’s progressions in atomic weapons innovation for the most part don’t concern Chinese experts. They trust India’s atomic advancements are tied in with picking up notoriety and accomplishing large force status, instead of reacting militarily to China’s nuclear modernization.

India has fortified its military resources on the LAC to fight off further attacks, and would like to squeeze China to reestablish the norm bet through discretionary or military methods. For instance, it could capture the land somewhere else on the LAC to use as leverage. However, that is more difficult than one might expect it to be. Moreover, India has no revenue in placing all of its essential investments tied up on one place. It remains vigorously subject to Russian military equipment and supplies (however it has as of late differentiated its buys), and Donald Trump’s US isn’t actually a reliable partner.

The India’s Ministry of Defense on September 10, affirmed the acquisition of 21 Russian MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi Su-30MKI contender airplane costing $2.43bn to expand its flying corps in the wake of the outskirt deadlock with China. India is additionally anticipating the appearance of the principal bunch of 36 Rafale contender jets requested as a component of a $8.78bn bargain endorsed with France in 2016. India  also intends to welcome Australia to partake in maritime activities it conducts with Japan and the United States, while likewise consenting to a defense agreement that permits the two nations to utilize each other’s army installations. The opportunities for such collaboration are unending, restricted simply by the creative mind of the particular organizations. However, The Chinese Prime Minister XI Jinping is trying to deflate Modi’s persona and regional influence. Xi Jinping is also exposing the splits in the emerging strategic convergence between India, Australia, US and Japan. India is aware of this strategy of China and is looking to counter that as well.

CONCLUSION

This recent horrific events at Ladakh have plunged the relations of India and China to the lowest point in decades. India is now looking to strengthen its ties with US in order to cope up with China.It is more likely to happen that we will now see a far greater partnership between India and US on the issues of mutual interest which in the current environment is likely to have a substantial China component. The two countries China and India have held several rounds of diplomatic and military level talks. It was concurred at the discussions that the round of military discourse should be held at an early date so the two sides can pursue an early and complete withdrawal of troops as per the current bilateral agreements and conventions. Both the countries are trying their best to resolve the dispute by mutual coordination. India and China have held a few rounds of strategic and military talks in the last few months to resolve the standoff between both states but no significant or concrete breakthrough has been achieved so far.

I am Hashim Kamal born on 16th April 2000. Grew up in Rawalpindi a city of Pakistan. Basically belonging to District Karak Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. I am currently enrolled in Bachelors in International Relations in National Defence University Islamabad. My interest areas are regional, ethnic and global conflicts, terrorism etc. I have a keen goal in persuing my career as a diplomat to serve my country.

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Defense

Why America’s nuclear threat to Russia now is bigger than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

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During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the central issue was how short America’s available reaction-time to a Soviet blitz nuclear attack would be and whether it would be too short for America to respond before America’s leader, JFK, would be able to press the nuclear button and retaliate against such a Soviet nuclear first-strike (from so near a location as Cuba). That time-interval would have been about 30 minutes, and Kennedy told Khrushchev that that would be unacceptably short and so if Khrushchev would go through with his plan to place his missiles in Cuba, then America would preemptively launch our nuclear warheads against the Soviet Union. Khrushchev decided not to do it. WW III was thus averted. But now we’re potentially down to around 5 minutes, in the reverse direction, and almost nobody is even talking about it

The present version of that threat (to the entire world) started in 2010, when U.S. President Barack Obama (who had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for his rhetoric) met privately in the White House with the then newly and democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, who had just been elected by Ukrainians on a platform of continuing into the future the geostrategic neutrality of Russia’s next-door neighbor Ukraine regarding the continuing goal of the U.S. Government to conquer Russia. Yanukovych refused to assist America in that regard, but would also not oppose it; Ukraine would remain neutral. Later that same year, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met privately with Yanukovych in Kiev, and the result was the same: Ukraine would remain neutral regarding Russia and the United States. Then, in 2011, two agents of the CIA-created Google Corporation, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who happened to be personal friends and associates of Ms. Clinton (plus some of those men’s close associates), met privately with Julian Assange for a ‘friendly’ visit allegedly in order to quote him in their upcoming book, The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives  how to stir up and organize a grass-roots movement online so as to enhance democracy. Only later did Assange recognize that he had divulged to them tips that were subsequently used by the U.S. State Department and CIA to organize the coup that overthrew Yanukovych in February 2014. Assange then headlined in October 2014, “Google Is Not What It Seems”. That’s when Assange noted, “Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s ‘director of regime change.’”

This coup (called ’the Maidan revolution’ or “Euromaidan”) started being organized inside the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine by no later than 1 March 2013, but Wikipedia says instead: “Euromaidan started in the night of 21 November 2013 when up to 2,000 protesters gathered at Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti and began to organize themselves with the help of social networks.” (Nothing was mentioned there about the U.S. Embassy’s having organized them.)

The U.S. Government had also engaged the Gallup polling organization, both before and after the coup, in order to poll Ukrainians, and especially ones who lived in its Crimean independent republic, regarding their views on U.S., Russia, NATO, and the EU; and, generally, Ukrainians were far more pro-Russia than pro-U.S., NATO, or EU, but this was especially the case in Crimea; so, America’s Government knew that Crimeans would be especially resistant. However, this was not really new information. During 2003-2009, only around 20% of Ukrainians had wanted NATO membership, while around 55% opposed it. In 2010, Gallup found that whereas 17% of Ukrainians considered NATO to mean “protection of your country,” 40% said it’s “a threat to your country.” Ukrainians predominantly saw NATO as an enemy, not a friend. But after Obama’s February 2014 Ukrainian coup, “Ukraine’s NATO membership would get 53.4% of the votes, one third of Ukrainians (33.6%) would oppose it.” However, afterward, the support averaged around 45% — still over twice as high as had been the case prior to the coup.

In other words: what Obama did was generally successful, it grabbed Ukraine, or most of it, and it changed Ukrainians’ minds regarding America and Russia. But only after the subsequent passage of time did the American neoconservative heart become successfully grafted into the Ukrainian nation so as to make Ukraine a viable place to position U.S. nuclear missiles against Moscow. Furthermore: America’s rulers also needed to do some work upon U.S. public opinion. Not until February of 2014 — the time of Obama’s coup — did more than 15% of the American public have a “very unfavorable” view of Russia. (Right before Russia invaded Ukraine, that figure had already risen to 42%. America’s press — and academia or public-policy ‘experts’ — have been very effective at managing public opinion.)

Back in 2012, when Obama was running for re-election, against Mitt Romney, that figure was still remaining at 11%, where it had been approximately ever since Gallup had started polling on this question in 1989. So, Obama, and the U.S. Congress, and the newsmedia owners who had sold all of those poliiticians to the American public, had a lot of work yet to do after Obama’s re-election in 2012. During that political contest, Obama was aware of this fact, and used it to his own advantage against the overtly hyper-anti-Russian candidate, Romney.

A major reason why the American people re-elected U.S. President Barack Obama, instead of elected a new President Romney, was Romney’s having said of Russia, on 26 March 2012,

Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They — they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors. … Russia is the — the geopolitical foe.

Not just “a” geopolitical foe, but “the” geopolitical foe.” (Wow! In a world with growing jihadist movements, such as Al Qaeda and ISIS?) The prior month, Gallup had polled, and reported that 11% figure; so, Romney was jumping the gun a lot on this, maybe because he was more concerned about fundraising than about appealing to voters. He knew he would need lots of money in order to have even a chance against Obama.

Obama responded to that comment mainly at the re-election campaign’s end, by springing this upon Romney during a debate, on 22 October 2012:

Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia. In the 1980s, they’re now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.

Obama’s campaign had very successfully presented himself as NOT being like Romney (even though he secretly WAS). Lies like this had, in fact, won Obama his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. But now he won his re-election. He was an astoundingly gifted liar.

Regarding the incident on 26 March 2012, when Obama spoke with Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev at the South Korean “Nuclear Security Summit”, Politifact reported:

In March 2012, at a summit in South Korea, Obama was caught in a “hot mic” incident. Without realizing he could be overheard, Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more ability to negotiate with the Russians about missile defense after the November election.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved, but it’s important for him [the incoming President Putin] to give me space,” Obama was heard telling Medvedev, apparently referring to incoming Russian president Vladi­mir Putin.

“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replied.

Obama interjected, saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

So: Obama was telling Putin there, through Medvedev, that his next Administration would soften its stand on America’s installing in eastern Europe, near and even on Russia’s borders, missiles that are designed to disable Russia’s ability to retaliate against a U.S. nuclear first-strike — the U.S. ABM or anti-ballistic-missile system and the nuclear weapoons that America was designing.

Obama wasn’t lying only to America’s voters; he was shown there privately lying to Putin, by indicating to Medvedev that instead of becoming more aggressive (by his planned ABMs, and super-advanced nuclear fuses) against Russia in a second term, he’d become less aggressive (by negotiating with Putin about these matters — as you can see there, the nub of the issue was George Herbert Walker Bush’s lie to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990).

Whereas Cuba was around 30 minutes away from nuking Washington DC., Ukraine would be around 5 minutes away from nuking Moscow. No other country is that close to Moscow. This is probably the main reason why, on 24 February 2022, Putin finally decided to invade Ukraine. But even if he wins there, Finland is only 7 minutes away from Moscow. And Finland was one of the Axis powers in Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa invasion against the Soviet Union between 25 June 1941 and 19 September 1944; so, Finland’s rejoining the nazi alliance now would certainly pose an even greater danger to Russians than Cuba’s joining the Soviet alliance posed to Americans in 1962. But this time, the aggressor-nation in the matter is the U.S. and its allies, not Russia, and yet Russia is responding with far less urgency than America had done in 1962. We’re still on borrowed time, borrowed now from Russia.

To all this, a friend has replied to me:

Completely invalid analogy.  Having Russian missiles in Cuba in the early days of ICBM technology was to the USA what having USA missiles in Turkey was to Russia.  The crisis was resolved when both countries agreed to withdraw their missiles. Made sense in those days.  Today, the technology is such that proximity of launch sites to targets is irrelevant.

However, some of America’s top nuclear scientists don’t share that view, at all, but its opposite. They concluded, on 1 March 2017:

The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing — boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three — and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.

Starting in 2006, the predominant American meta-strategy has been called “Nuclear Primacy” — meaning to attain the ability to win a nuclear war — not merely what it had previously been (M.A.D. or “Mutually Assured Destruction”): to prevent one.

Apparently, the latest fashion in U.S. Government and academic thinking, about this ‘competition’, is, first, to dismember Russia. They even sell this goal as embodying America’s “commitment to anti-imperialism.”

Even after the lies that got us to invade Iraq, America’s public seem to have learned no lessons.

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Can BRICS Make a Contribution to International Security?

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The 14th BRICS Summit is being held in virtual format in Beijing, China. Under turbulent international situations, the question of whether BRICS should indeed play a significant role in international security remains open. Numerous skeptics believe that security issues should remain outside of the BRICS mandate because BRICS has little to contribute here if compared to institutions specifically created to handle security challenges.

Their arguments can be concluded as the three following aspects. Firstly, security has always been closely linked to geography. Secondly, security cooperation tends to presuppose common values and coinciding views on the international system. Thirdly, effective security cooperation is possible if the institution in question has a clear and specific security-related mandate.

These arguments cannot be dismissed as irrelevant. But it is also hard to unconditionally accept them since they reflect traditional views on security which no longer fully reflect the realities of the 21st century. Meanwhile, these realities allow us to assess the capabilities of BRICS in the security domain a little more optimistically, even if the capabilities of BRICS have not yet been fully used.  

Let’s start with geography. In general, security problems affect countries geographically close to each other. Conflicts and wars, as well as alliances and unions, arise mainly between neighbors. But in today’s world, there are many dimensions of security that are not so rigidly tied to geography.

Problems such as cyber security, international terrorism, climate change and the threat of pandemics do not have a specific geographical preference; they are global in nature. Within BRICS, they already actively discuss “non-geographical” issues of international security: non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the use of atomic energy and space for peaceful purposes, international information security and potential threats associated with new technologies.

On the other hand, the regionalization (fragmentation) of the global political and economic systems taking place today contains challenges to international security. If the world breaks apart into a number of blocs, such development can result not only in economic competition between them, but ultimately in a military confrontation.

Therefore, BRICS, figuratively speaking, can help to “sew” the fabric of global security that is being fragmented in front of our eyes. Interaction within the framework of BRICS can become one of the factors hindering the formation of a bipolar system of world politics.

What about values? Tasks related to international security are not always solved on the basis of a unity of values. Very often, the task is precisely to find a balance of interests between countries whose values differ significantly.

In a sense, we can say that the composition of the UN Security Council reflects the significant pluralism of values that exists in the modern world. The notion that humanity was rapidly moving towards the universalization of Western liberal values two or three decades ago has not been confirmed by the course of history.

There is every reason to assume that the pluralism of values in the world will only increase over time. Security will have to be negotiated not on the basis of common values but on the basis of converging interests.

BRICS, like the UN Security Council, has members with different sets of values. It is a small but very representative organization—especially if we take into account not only the BRICS members but also those countries that are somehow involved in the organization’s project activities (BRICS+). Therefore, if something can be agreed upon within the framework of BRICS, then it can be agreed on in a broader format, up to the level of global agreements.

Thus, BRICS can be perceived as a laboratory for working out those solutions in the field of security that are likely to be acceptable to very different participants. In addition, each of the BRICS countries is able to pull its many partners and allies along with it.

Finally, let us turn to the issue of the BRICS mandate. International organizations, among other classifications, can be divided into specialized and universal ones. For the latter, a vague mandate is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if such a vague mandate combines security and development concerns.  

In today’s world, these problems cannot be separated from each other. Without security, it is impossible to count on progressive development, but without successful development there will be no sustainable security. Unfortunately, security issues are still very often separated from development issues, and these two areas are dealt with by different institutions and different groups of officials and experts.

However, the logic of development and the logic of security do not diverge from each other any longer. If BRICS succeeds in trying to reconcile these two logics, it will benefit everyone. In particular, such a project format of work may be in demand in the UN system where specialized organizations often do not interact enough with each other.

Therefore, it’s necessary to maximize the comparative advantages of existing formats of multilateral cooperation like BRICS which bring their own specific features to the table. In the field of security, BRICS could well become a testing ground for developing multilateral approaches to new challenges and threats of the 21st century.

From our partners RIAC

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An Epitaph for Anniversary

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On the eve of the NATO summit in Madrid, to be held on June 28-30, Julianne Smith, U.S. Permanent Representative to the alliance, announced that Russia’s actions in Ukraine had violated the NATO‒Russia Founding Act. Building on this, she added that the West no longer considers it imperative to adhere to the provisions of the document that has shaped Moscow‒Brussels relations over the last quarter century. However, the fate of the Founding Act will finally be decided in Madrid.

Ironically, Julianne Smith’s statement came just after the Act’s 25th anniversary. It all started on May 27, 1997 in the Elysee Palace in Paris, where Russian President Boris Yeltsin, leaders of NATO’s then 16 member states and Alliance Secretary General Javier Solana signed a document intended to turn Moscow and Brussels into strategic partners. Exactly five years later, on May 28, 2002, the new Russian leader Vladimir Putin visited Rome to sign a declaration establishing the NATO‒Russia Council. This was how the platform for implementing the provisions of the Founding Act was established.

The 1997 document contains plenty of fine words about abandoning the practices of using force against each other, about respect for sovereignty and independence as well as about the mutual desire to establish a pan-European security system. In practical terms, the most important provision may well be the alliance’s permanent commitment not to deploy additional substantial combat forces on the territory of its new members and Russia’s commitment to be restrained in the deployment of its conventional armed forces in Europe.

As hopes of turning Moscow and Brussels into strategic partners melted away year by year, the sides began to pay more attention to formal matters. What’s the meaning of the word “permanent”? What are “substantial combat forces”? The West assumed that “substantial strength” should be measured starting from a brigade—therefore, NATO, responding to the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, decided to deploy four new battalions in the Baltics and Poland on a rotational basis so as not to formally violate the Founding Act. Moscow protested the decision, but it was reluctant to take the initiative to terminate the Act either. Experts argued about who violated the Founding Act first, but these disputes are—in the end—becoming a thing of the past. At the Madrid summit, the alliance will most likely abandon all formal self-limitations, putting this into official wordings, and it will solely be guided by its own ideas about the “Russian threat.” This means that we will observe permanent brigades and divisions, rather than just battalions, on NATO’s eastern flank.

Moscow and Brussels will still have to communicate, since it is in the interests of both sides to reduce the risk of a direct military clash. Paradoxically, perhaps, NATO could muster courage to launch a new dialogue with Russia after the Madrid summit, which will fix the unbreakable unity of the alliance and adopt a new utterly anti-Russian strategy.

The atmosphere of 1997 has faded into oblivion. However, Moscow communicated with both Washington and Brussels even in the more distant and far less romantic times of the Warsaw Pact, ultimately arriving at mutually acceptable solutions to many difficult problems.

From our partner RIAC

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