Editorial – A case study in escalation: NATO, the U.S. and Russia. If we very coldly look at how the situation is evolving between NATO, the U.S. and Russia, then it seems undeniable that we are in the case of a serious escalation, which is also getting larger and deeper.
The hope for de-escalation the Kerry-Lavrov meeting had created, followed by the start of a removal of the Russian troops from the Russian territory close to the Ukraine border, as observed by Reuters and noted by the BBC (see Jonathan Marcus, first question, Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, 1 April – video) stopped with NATO’s series of declarations, starting with “Unfortunately, I cannot confirm that Russia is withdrawing its troops. This is not what we’re seeing.” In this light it is interesting to recall NATO’s experience with and ability to mobilize spin doctors and to read with attention the Sunday Telegraph’s article: “How the Kosovo War was Spun“, 17 October 1999.
NATO’s interest is here obvious as it finds back a legitimacy to its very existence it had not enjoyed since the end of the Cold War and that was also questioned by the build up of the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Unfortunately, by the same token, it accredits and reinforces the Russian feeling of an aggressive NATO (e.g. “Russia’s Crimea Invasion Follows Decades of Perceived Humiliation” Offiziere.ch, 5 March 2014). Furthermore, “Kyiv’s Suspension of Military Industry Cooperation with Moscow” and its impact on the Russian armed forces, even if Russians stress that Russia will “be able to resolve the problems connected with its dependence on the Ukrainian military-industrial complex but for this it will need time” (Paul Goble, The Interpreter, 31 March 2014), is not to assuage feelings of threats.
Further anti-Russian slights followed, including the suspension of contacts between the NASA and Roscosmos beyond the international Space Station, and J.P Morgan blocking a payment of Russia’s embassy in Kazakhstan (now processing).
A strong answer from Russia was obviously to be expected, and it did happen, with an alleged 20 billion USD deal between Iran and Russia, that would breach the sanctions regime against Iran according to the US (see “What About The Dollar: Russia, Iran Announce $20 Billion Oil-For-Goods Deal“, Zerohedge). Most interestingly in the light of last week’s discussion regarding the risks to the USD supremacy, this would be barter and not a deal monetized in USD.
We are thus in a situation of high escalation and tension, and it is global because, as we previously noted, Russia is not isolated, as explained and underlined by the European Leadership Network‘s article. The most optimistic and also less lethal scenario that could emerge out of this week re-escalation is that the transformation of the world into a multipolar one could have been – unwillingly – accelerated.
Considering the return of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, and the various global security threats, from water to climate change, we may wonder if multipolarity and high level of tension are very conducive to ideal responses, unless those global threats may be the face-saving way out of escalation.
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Featured image: The Presidential Press and Information Office – Russia – Trip to St Peterburg. Celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Leningrad – At the performance of the Requiem ballet, dedicated to the city’s liberation, at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. Artists of the St Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre of Boris Eifman presented the Requiem together with the State Chamber Orchestra Moscow Virtuosos and Academic Grand Choir The Masters of Choral Singin.