Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

US: 'Revanchist Russia' is main threat to Europe

  • Artillery sight, looking at contact line in Russia-occupied east Ukraine (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

The US military says “revanchist Russia” is the greatest threat to European security, amid prolonged ceasefire violations in Ukraine.

It said in a strategy paper, out on Tuesday (26 January) that US forces in Europe are “currently … confronting the most profound negative change in the European security environment since the end of the Cold War.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Breedlove (c) is known for hawkish statements on Russia (Photo: nato.org)

After Russia, it named “mass migration from other regions” and “foreign terrorist fighters … transiting through Europe” as elements which “jeopardise European security.”

“In the east and north, Russia is the cause of much concern due to its increasingly aggressive behaviour in

eastern Europe and militarisation in the Arctic,” the paper, signed by Philip M. Breedlove, the commander of US forces in Europe said.

It said Russia is waging “conventional, irregular, and asymmetric … warfare” in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

It spoke of Russia’s “persistent manipulation of political and ideological conflicts - to foster instability” and of its “malign influence to weaken the Nato alliance and other Western international institutions.”

Breedlove said the US will continue to help Europe to “deter Russian aggression,” by stockpiling weapons in eastern Europe, and by building a ballistic missile shield.

But he voiced concern that EU defence budgets are being cut, in part due to the “lingering effects from a global financial crisis.”

He warned that: “After years of force structure reductions, fewer than 65,000 US military personnel remain permanently stationed in Europe to secure and advance US national interests.”

Breedlove’s typically hawkish “theatre strategy” assessment comes amid US State Department hope that Russia is ready to stop the war in east Ukraine.

Quiet optimism

The optimism comes after Vladimir Surkov, a senior Russian diplomat, spoke in detail about ceasefire compliance with his US counterpart, Victoria Nuland, in Kaliningrad, Russia, on 15 January.

The main pillars of the so-called Minsk 2 ceasefire accord are: to hold local elections in east Ukraine; for all “foreign” troops to leave Ukraine; for Ukraine to get back control of its Russia border.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko must first pass a law on the elections, but the OSCE, the Vienna-based European security watchdog, and EU diplomats fear he lacks a majority in parliament.

The elections are to take place in the de facto Russia-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

They must also be monitored by the OSCE to have credibility. But the OSCE estimates that even if the security situation stabilised overnight, the conditions for a credible vote might not be in place before July.

For the time being, there is still almost-daily exchange of fire and threat of sudden escalation, however.

On the exit of “foreign” forces, OSCE monitors say they have not seen Russian soldiers wearing Russian insignia. But they have seen sophisticated weapons systems which came from over the Russian border.

On border control, the monitors have some access in the Donetsk area. But almost no access in the more sensitive Luhansk area, where they suspect the most violations.

Noisy exchange

The quiet diplomacy on Minsk 2 is taking place amid a noisy exchange between London, Moscow, and Washington.

A British public inquiry, last week, said Russian leader Vladimir Putin “probably” ordered the killing of fugitive spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. A senior US Treasury official later said Putin is “corrupt.”

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, voiced anger and demanded proof on TV.

In the latest statement, Putin’s security chief, Nikolai Patrushev, on Tuesday said the US aims to break up Russia to get its minerals.

“The Russian Federation's disintegration is not ruled out … this will open access to the richest resources for the United States, which believes that Russia possesses them undeservingly,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

Analysis

Is Putin trying to topple Merkel?

If Putin was trying to use refugees to topple Angela Merkel, then Aleppo was a step too far, Norbert Roettgen, the head of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, has told EUobserver.

Opinion

Minsk 2: The big farce of Western policy on Russia

The New Year began with optimism that the Ukraine crisis will be solved quickly. But the solution appears to be on Russia’s terms and at the cost of Ukraine’s national interests. 

News in Brief

  1. EU hits Mastercard with €570m fine
  2. Romanian minister prepares to cancel corruption cases
  3. Sefcovic: no gas supply problems this winter
  4. Report: Commission warning on passport-sale schemes
  5. France summons Italian ambassador over colonial remark
  6. May U-turn on fee for EU nationals in UK
  7. French data watchdog gives Google €50m fine
  8. EU hits Russians with sanctions over Salisbury attack

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  2. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B
  3. European Parliament targets 'fake' political groups
  4. What is fate of non-euro EU states after Brexit?
  5. Turkish NBA star takes on Erdogan
  6. 'Meme ban' still on table in EU copyright bill, says MEP
  7. Brexit power grab by MPs hangs over May's 'Plan B'
  8. Polish mayor's funeral marred by Tusk TV dispute

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us