On August 4 Prime Minister David Cameron visited the NATO Allied headquarters in Brussels. Formally the event was timed with the marking the 100 year anniversary of the British Empire’s entrance into the First World War, but Russia and the events in Ukraine were the issues to dominate the discussions.
The Prime Minister puts all the blame on Russia. According to him, NATO has not viewed Russia as an enemy for the recent 23 years. He said while NATO “had only ever sought to be a partner to Russia, not a threat, it is clear that Russia views NATO as an adversary.” David Cameron believes NATO should review the long-term relationship and “revisit the principles that guide our relationship with Russia.” He believes the issue of offering protection to the countries of eastern Europe, especially Poland and the Baltic States, should top the agenda of upcoming NATO summit in Wales at the beginning of September. One of the measures is to reinforce the headquarters in Poland. The NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast and Joint Force Training Center staffs are based on Polish soil. The Prime Minister supports the idea of pre-positioning ammunition and supplies in eastern Europe along with scheduling a series of exercises “that will make clear we will not be intimidated by Russia’s aggressive behavior.”
A few days before visiting HQ in Mons he had sent a letter to other NATO leaders. It says that as the mission in Afghanistan is winding up the alliance should re-focus on deterring Russia as before. The military expenditure of each member should not be lower than 2% of GDP. It’s expedient to provide NATO partners with substantial military aid.
Obviously, NATO is going through a crisis period. It was founded in the days of Cold War. Many expected the organization to disband along with the Warsaw Pact. Instead the alliance took over the United Nations mission in Bosnia, then brazenly attacked Serbia, took Kosovo away from Serbs and invaded Afghanistan to justify its existence. Butthe morning sun never lasts a day.The Afghanistan mission is coming to its end without any visible achievements except permanent chaos in the much-suffered country, something that was the initial goal of the US-led NATO intervention in 2001. Under the circumstances many Europeans thought that if the “global responsibility” implies sending military to hot spots then it’s better not to take it on at all. With disagreements brewing between the members, the alliance could fall into decay. But good luck sent the Ukraine’s crisis to large extent provoked by the leading alliance members.
David Cameron is the leading Eurosceptic. His anti-European stance has been less highlighted recently with more focus on the anti-European parties gaining a success at the European Parliament election. In January 2013 Cameron said he wanted talks on changing the UK status in the EU and promised to hold an all-national referendum in 2017 on EU membership. The possibility of the UK leaving the European Union has become even more acute now. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the British PM is kind of a US Trojan horse inside the EU. The UK acts as a sponsor for smaller Trojan horses, like Poland, for instance. Now the man who has always advocated lesser dependence on the EU all of a sudden became concerned over the NATO military capabilities.
On the one hand, the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance are not competitors, they have no different goals. The EU is a purely European structure, NATO is led by the United States. The EU is focused on economy while NATO remains to be a fully military and political entity. Together they constitute a foundation for the Western world. If the West is united, then the both should act hand in hand and all Western politicians should be equally interested in their stability and progress.
On the other hand, NATO is a US turf, while the EU is an association where Germany reins. Germany is an economic giant but a military dwarf. The United States is an economic and military leader but it is facing rough times and needs to be bolstered from outside. One of the things to shoulder the US stand is the increase of European contribution into NATO military expenditure as the US Quadrennial Defense Review openly states.
Every member’s contribution is measured in the share of its GDP, if the 2% minimum level will be complied with, and then the Germany’s contribution will be the largest. It won’t be easy to convince Germany to pay more than others, but if it does, and then the Trojan horses will try to prevent its growing clout within the North Atlantic Alliance. It’s common logic. He who pays the piper calls the tune. But the political influence of Germany is inseparable from the might the EU enjoys on the global scene; it’s Germans who play first violin there. Any member leaving or limiting the power of EU structures will inevitably weaken the Germany’s international standing.
Since the start of the crisis Germany never wanted anything more than symbolic sanctions imposed on Russia. The Ukrainian media is full of reports that Russia and Germany have a tacit agreement that is no less effective than the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
It’s clear, that the desire to become a sanitary cordon under the US patronage has obscured the mind of Ukrainian politicians and journalists. They believe there are no more black cats in the room. But Germany is certainly not among those who are chomping at the bit to punish Russia. 69 years have passed since the Second World War, 24 years have passed since the unification of Germany, but it’s still not independent in taking foreign policy decisions. There are strong ties keeping it close to the overseas partner. Berlin knows as well as Moscow who needed to destroy the Malaysian airliner, but Germany still has to take irrational and self-damaging steps in its relationship with Russia to avoid comparisons between Merkel and Ribbentrop.
These steps are taken with reluctance and under pressure, Germany will use any suitable pretexts to step back or not respond to insistent requests of Anglo-Saxon allies. The chance is there. The upcoming NATO September summit in Wales will debate the expediency of the economic burden offered by David Cameron.