Experts

  • Position : Professor
  • Affiliation : Department of Integrated Communications, The Higher School of Economics
  • Position : Consultant
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
  • Position : Chairman of the Executive Board; Chairman of the "Trialogue" Club International
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
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PIR Center Experts on the German Initiative to Relaunch dialog on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe

31.08.2016

MOSCOW. AUGUST 31, 2016. PIR PRESS – “The entire European security system, including its military dimension, should be modernized. Here it may be reasonable to come back to Russia’s proposal to draft a comprehensive European Security Treaty, once put forward by the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. This document could embrace all security dimensions, including the military one, restore the  system  of  control, which  is in  fact lost  now,  over conventional  armed  forces, and  dramatically  improve  the  system  of  confidence- and security-building measures”, – Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Chairman of the PIR Center’s Executive Board.

On August 26, 2016 the German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an article by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier “More security for everyone in Europe: A call for a re-launch of arms control” in which he offered to re-launch conventional arms control in Europe. Given that Mr. Steinmeier, did not refer to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), it may bring up the possibility of a new agreement with Russia on European security, which should cover five areas: define regional ceilings, minimum distances and transparency measures in military operations and exercises; joint development of new military capabilities and strategies; new types of weapons systems (e.g. drones); an effective verification mechanism, rapidly deployable, flexible and independent in times of crisis in international relations (for example, implemented by OSCE); also, should be applied in areas which territorial status is disputed.

Chairman of the PIR Center’s Executive Board Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Evgeny Buzhinskiy shared his vision of the future European security architecture with the members of the International Club "Trialogue" in the issue of the newsletter Russia Confidential.

According to Buzhinskiy, “the entire European security system, including its military dimension, should be modernized. Here it may be reasonable to come back to Russia’s proposal to draft  a  comprehensive  European  Security Treaty,  once  put  forward  by  the  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. This document could embrace all security dimensions, including the  military  one,  restore  the  system  of  control, which  is in  fact lost  now,  over conventional  armed  forces, and  dramatically  improve  the  system  of  confidence- and security-building measures”.

Evgeny Buzhinskiy also notes the significant Russian efforts regarding reformation of the Vienna Document in 1997-2005 and the development of confidence- and security-building measures in the naval field. The expert noted the futility of attempts being made by Russia, “All Russian initiatives regarding the improvement of confidence- and security-building measures were categorically rejected by the United States and their European allies. The reason behind such position of NATO, in my opinion, is obvious. In the 1990-s and the first half of the 2000-s, Russia was relatively weak in military terms and conducted few exercises. Furthermore, the control mechanisms of the CFE Treaty worked, and they fully satisfied NATO’s needs for monitoring the state of Russia’s military forces.” According to Evgeny Buzhinskiy, starting from 2010, the situation has changed: the  Russian leaders launched  a  comprehensive  military  reform  and  sharply  increased  the  number  of operational  and  military  training  exercises.  In addition, Russia suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty implementation in 2007 due to NATO member states’ refusal to ratify the Agreement on Adaptation signed in 1999. As a result, the Alliance suddenly recognized that it lacked mechanisms to monitor the activities of Russia’s military forces. I  should  frankly  say  that  the  current  state  of  affairs  objectively  satisfies  the Russian  military.

PIR Center consultant, Oleg Shakirov, in his blog entry "On Germany's initiative to re-launch conventional arms control" (in Russian), commented on German side’s offer as follows: "On the one hand, the proposal to establish regional limits recalls the flank restrictions of CFE Treaty that did not meet the interests of Russia, and, consequently, could lead to an old problem. On the other hand, Russia could use this clause to limit the freedom of NATO’s action in areas close to its borders. In general, the return to the discussion of thresholds is indicating that till the current tensions between Russia and the West, NATO’s concern was mostly about transparency." German FM also offers launching "structured dialogue" on arms control, including in the OSCE area. Oleg Shakirov also reminded of the need to consider and review the positions of other potential participants in the talks: "Since Germany took the initiative to re-launch the conventional arms control unilaterally, it is important now, what will be the reaction of other participants in possible future negotiations."

In article "Merkel Plan" failed? What is behind the Berlin proposal for negotiations with Moscow" (in Russian), a member of the PIR Center Executive Board, Professor of the Higher School of Economics Dmitry Evstafiev talks about necessity of setting a number of fundamental questions before the start of the negotiation process: "To what extent our European partners consider that it is possible to separate politics from the military policy? [...] Currently it seems unlikely that Russia would agree to any shifts in the military field, while both sanctions and, to a bigger extent, declarations like the notorious "Mogherini Ultimatum" (requiring returning of Crimea in exchange for normalization of relations) are in place. Such declarations pose danger to the European stability, and under certain conditions, can become the basis for a serious destabilization of the continent. To what extent European elites are ready (and to what extent they will be allowed!) to speak not only of Europe, and not only of NATO, but also about US actions, who carried out a number of steps exacerbating the situation beyond the NATO format?".

For comments of PIR Center experts for the media, please call 8 (495) 987 19 15.

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