Recently, the US together with other organizations like NATO has held a series of emergency meetings with Russia. On January 10, representatives of the US and Russia held talks in Geneva; on January 12, Russia and NATO held talks in Brussels; on January 13, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held talks in Vienna. The relations between the US, Europe and Russia remain tense over the Ukrainian issue.
Irreconcilable structural conflict
"The dialogues did not reach any breakthrough as expected. NATO's eastward expansion and its deployment of weapons to Russia's neighbors have threatened Russia's security. To this, Russia is sure to definitely resist and fight back hard. This is an irreconcilable structural conflict", according to Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies.
"This round of dialogues marks a contest of Russia with the US and NATO on the immediate cause of Ukrainian issue. NATO has extended its tentacles into Ukraine, deploying weapons, and dispatching some so-called 'mercenaries' therein. These have humiliated Russia beyond endurance. In this case, Russia was forced to warn the US and NATO in a tough manner. From a deeper level, this is a contest between the US and Russia around European security. In the Cold War, the Europe once served as a strategic buffer to the US-Russia relation. However, the US has kept promoting NATO's eastward expansion, which has been encroaching on the security environment around Russia after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The security buffer between the US and Russia has all gone ever since. Russia has to fight back, resulting intensions between Russia and both the US and NATO. "
Analysts generally pointed out that since the end of the Cold War, the US and other Western countries have long adopted a "hybrid approach" featuring a combination of dialogue and cooperation and military deterrence to contain Russia. After the Cold War, NATO has moved more than a thousand kilometers eastward, having gained the opportunity to use non-strategic weapons against targets on the territory of Russia. Besides, NATO usually conducts dozens of large-scale exercises each year, including the military operations targeting Russia. Recently, Russia and Western countries have fought fiercely over the Ukraine issue, which has made their tensions even worse. The US and Ukraine keep hyping up the so-called threat of Russian invasion; Russia on the other hand attaches great emphasis to the deployment of weapon systems by the US and other Western countries in areas close to Russia's western border, which have brought serious military risks to all parties involved and touched Russia's red line.
During this round of dialogues, both the US and Russia have shown a tough and uncompromising position. However, Europe has actually become a party injured. Europe is worried that severe sanctions against Russia may trigger an economic blow to itself. As quoted by Bloomberg from some insiders, the EU is still evaluating potential sanctions against Russia from both economic and legal perspectives. The European countries are also worried about Russia's retaliation, even cutting off the gas supplies.
According to Ruan Zongze, "the core of these three dialogues lies in a contest between the US and Russia. Both the NATO and EU are supported by the US from behind. Given geopolitical factors, Europe is actually more sensitive to Russia's toughness, and has always advocated dealing with security issues through negotiation with Russia to avoid intensifying the conflicts. However, the toughness of the US forces Russia to respond toughly. What the US has done is actually tying Europe to its own chariot, forcing Europe to pay for the US' strategic adventure. In this sense, the US has put the security concerns of its allies on the back burner for its own sake."
Try to avoid a showdown
"The only outcome of these dialogues is that the US, Russia and Europe will continue to maintain consultations and dialogues." As analyzed by RuanZongze, "next, the development of the situation is up to the changes of the Ukrainian situation. If the US and NATO continue to deploy weapons to Ukraine, provoking the situation to deteriorate, Russia's countermeasures are sure to be extremely severe."
"In all, the conflicts between Russia, the US, and NATO over NATO's eastward expansion will not easily vanish, which are bound to be the most important conflict affecting the security situation in Europe for a long time to come. There is no way for Russia to retreat. There is little room for compromise between the two sides. However, each side is trying to avoid a showdown, and diplomacy will continue to play its corresponding role", said Ruan Zongze.
Editor's note: This article is originally published on haiwainet.cn, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.