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Luis Simón: NATO’ s rebirth – Assessing NATO’s Eastern European “Flank”

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    Luis Simón: NATO’ s rebirth – Assessing NATO’s Eastern European “Flank”

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    Under arrangementet Army Summit 2015 i Oslo, kom jeg i kontakt med en av foredragsholderne, nemlig den spanske forskeren professor, dr. Luis Simon som hører til Institutt for Europiske studier (IES) og er co-editor av nettstedet European GeoStrategy. Luis har utgitt en rekke publikasjoner og er en respektert skikkelse i forskningsmiljøet og NATO.

    Han holdt et svært interessant innlegg under Army Summit 2015 om Europa og "bufferlandene" mellom Russland og vesten. En tematikk han med stor innlevelse og kunnskap fortalte lett forståelig om. Innlegget hadde tittelen "Our Forces and the Future: A EU perspective".
    I ettertiden har jeg mailet endel med Luis og har samtidig fått tillatelse til å republisere mye av materialet hans. Her presenterer vi hans studie om NATO og den østlige europeiske flanke:

    NATO’ s rebirth - Assessing NATO’s Eastern European “Flank”

    Luis Simón
    © 2014 Luis Simón

    Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ongoing efforts to de-stabilize Eastern Ukraine have led NATO and the US to adopt a number of initiatives aimed at “reassuring” Eastern and Central European allies. This article assesses the implications of those initiatives for NATO’s evolving position in Eastern Europe. It also appraises the Alliance’s renewed focus on defense and deterrence with respect to European and transatlantic capabilities.

    The aim of this article is to assess NATO’s evolving geostrategic position in Eastern Europe in the context of a resurgent Russia. Admittedly, the military-strategic level is but one aspect of Russia’s resurgence. Although Russian military power did play an important part in the annexation of Crimea and subsequent de-stabilization of Eastern Ukraine, Moscow is showing a clear preference for “non-traditional” ways and means when it comes to expanding its influence across Eastern Europe, including energy blackmail, the use of undercover assets (the so-called “little green men”), financial penetration, cyber-attacks, and information warfare. This is particularly true in the case of Eastern and Central European countries covered by NATO’s mutual defense guarantee. In this regard, economic and political means are likely to become central to any Western response or strategy aimed at countering Russian influence in Eastern Europe.

    Having said this, Central and Eastern European perceptions of Russian power are largely mediated by the evolving military-strategic balance. Thus, the latter provides a sort of “superstructure” or framework within which geopolitical competition in Eastern Europe plays out. This article looks at Europe’s “Eastern Flank” primarily from a geostrategic perspective.

    Heads of State and Government pose for a family photo at the start of the NATO Summit 2014 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, Britain, 04 September 2014. World leaders from about 60 countries are coming together for a two-day NATO summit taking place from 04-05 September.
    Credit: EPA

    The opening section

    -examines some of the main initiatives adopted by NATO’s Heads of State and Government at the September 2014 Summit in Wales, and assesses their contribution to defense and deterrence in Eastern Europe:

    NATO Reloaded? The 2014 Wales Summit
    - Arguably, the main outcome from the 2014 Wales summit was the return of defense and deterrence in Eastern Europe to the center of NATO debates. This does not mean the era of Western expeditionary military operations has come to pass. However, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February 2014 and subsequent meddling in Eastern Ukraine has aggravated a sense of insecurity amongst NATO’s Central and Eastern European allies, and prompted the Alliance to place a renewed emphasis on defense and deterrence in an Eastern Flank context. Aclear illustration of this fact was NATO’s decision in Wales to adopt the Readiness Action Plan, to ensure the Alliance will be able to react to crises swiftly and firmly.

    The second section
    - seeks to place these initiatives within a broader geostrategic context, by breaking down the so-called eastern flank into three sub-components or sub-theaters: the Baltic Sea; the Black Sea; and the “continental” northeastern European flank. It identifies the main geostrategic vulnerabilities NATO faces in each sub-theater and suggests possible ways to overcome them.

    Conceptualizing the “Eastern Flank”
    -As mentioned, the different initiatives adopted by NATO should be considered in terms of three military-strategic sub-theaters: the Baltic Sea; the Black Sea; and the continental flank. The Arctic area could be regarded as a fourth sub-theater of the eastern flank, as it willbe able to react to crises swiftly and firmly.
    The third and final section
    -looks at the implications NATO’s renewed emphasis on defense and deterrence for European and transatlantic discussions on capability development, and offers some broader reflections on what the crisis of the “crisis management” paradigm might mean for Western military strategy:

    Implications for European and Transatlantic Capabilities -
    Admittedly, defense and deterrence are not the main concern of all European countries, many of whom continue to attach more importance to expeditionary operations and non-eastern flank contingencies. Indeed, geopolitical volatility in the broader Middle East and the shift of the world’s geostrategic center of gravity towards the Indo-Pacific maritime axis underscore the ongoing importance of out-of-area concepts. However, the renewed focus on the eastern flank is likely to resulting a reinvigoration of NATO and lead many European allies to give greater consideration to defense and deterrence in the context of their own national force planning processes.

    Last ned artikkelen (i PDF) her.

    Merk forøvrig denne kommentaren om NATO og avhengigheten av USA sin militærmakt, særlig aktuelt i disse tider med Forsvarssjefens Fagmilitære Råd som ikke legger opp til en oppfyllelse av forpliktelsene Norge skrev under på i Wales ved NATO-toppmøtet om 2 % av brutto nasjonalprodukt til Forsvaret:

    In Washington’s eyes, Russia’s geopolitical resurgence in Eastern Europe represents just one of many global security challenges. This may partly explain why the United States is adopting an increasingly indirect approach to European security, by placing partnerships up front and stepping up its calls to European allies to do more to uphold Europe’s security order.