Friday, November 27, 2015

Russia Picks and Chooses

Russia is upset that Poland wants to scrap the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act and have permanently stationed NATO units from further west permanently stationed in the new NATO countries in the east. Since Russia has already violated the treaty, why shouldn't NATO just scrap the treaty?

This type of complaint takes a lot of nerve:

Russia's foreign ministry on Thursday slammed as "extraordinarily dangerous" Poland's call to annul a NATO act that prevents it from having permanent military bases on its soil.

"We consider these statements to be extraordinarily dangerous and exceptionally provocative," Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Poland's new right-wing Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski on Wednesday called for scrapping the 1997 act on NATO-Russia relations to let the alliance install the bases, saying the document causes "inequality" between new and old members of the alliance.

Let's look at a couple provisions of the agreement that Russia holds so dear.

One, let's look at some of the big picture of the agreement:

To achieve the aims of this Act, NATO and Russia will base their relations on a shared commitment to the following principles: ...

•acknowledgement of the vital role that democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and civil liberties and the development of free market economies play in the development of common prosperity and comprehensive security;

•refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as well as against any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act;

•respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples' right of self-determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents; ...

•prevention of conflicts and settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with UN and OSCE principles;

Russia's foreign minister is implying that the West is about to rip up the act while Russia upholds it?

Just where is Russia's commitment to democracy and all the rest?

Hasn't Russia moved well beyond the threat of force with seizures of Georgian and Ukrainian territory? And threats have been plenty against NATO states and Sweden, with both military movements and verbal threats.

I think we can acknowledge the failure to respect sovereignty and the rest, as well as Russia's failure to limit disputes to peaceful means.

And two, what about those specific limits on NATO deployment?

NATO reiterates that in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces.

Is Russia clawing back territory and seeking to keep neighbors as vassals part of the foreseeable security environment envisioned in 1997?

Doesn't Russia's failure to continue the security environment of the time eliminate the conditional pledge not to permanently station additional substantial combat forces in the east?

Perhaps I'm hasty in saying we should scrap the treaty. But we should match Russia's selective disregard.

NATO should suspend the permanent stationing provision of the founding act as long as Russia occupies Crimea and other portions of Ukraine in the Donbas region.

And let Russia know that the provisions on stationing additional permanent substantial combat forces will be reset at the level existing not in 1997, but at the level when Russia withdraws from Ukrainian territory and reaffirms the big picture commitments.

And we should insist that these commitments specifically include, but is not restricted to, the Baltic NATO states, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia, which are in the main line of fire of Russia's drive to rebuild their empire.

All in all, Poland's desire to increase their army by 50% is fully justified given the current and foreseeable security environment:

Under the plan the Polish army would grow from its current strength of 100,000 to 150,000 as the country continues to expand the capabilities of its armed forces. Poland has pledged to hit the unofficial Nato defence spending target of two per cent of GDP and has launched an intensive modernisation programme.

Plus, Poland wants to create 3 new territorial brigades (like our National Guard reserve units) in the east.

Russia can't be allowed to pick and choose the most favorable parts of agreements they've entered.

And a note. The picture of the Leopard tank in Polish service in the Telegraph story sure looks like an American Abrams tank and not a German-made Leopard.

UPDATE: Related news on Russia's return to Cold War weirdness.