The NATO Wales summit is an important event for the relationship between Russia and the West. It wound up with controversial results.
It’s good the issue of Ukraine was not the only one to set the agenda, the situation in the Middle East, where the world witnesses British citizens severing heads of American journalists, stuns the world raising great security concerns. The US, Ukraine, the «young Europe» and some other members of the alliance wanted the situation in Ukraine to dominate. NATO claims global responsibility and it’s evident that the Islamic State poses a greater threat. The decision on new rapid response force did not exactly match the aspirations of Poland, Estonia, Romania and some other states that have recently joined the alliance.
On a visit to Estonia President Obama said he would increase the presence of US Air Force in this country. The summit agreed to broaden the military infrastructure and hold frequent military exercises to repel the Russian «aggression» but there will be no permanent presence, the decision not to deploy troops permanently was to large extent influenced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The summit declaration included the guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defence with 20% of the budgets spent on major equipment. The guideline has been effective for already ten years carried out only by the USA, Great Britain, Greece and Estonia. The final declaration puts it rather mildly; it says the allies should «aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfall». The participants emphasized that collective defence is at the heart of the Washington Treaty as enshrined in Article 5. It commits members to protect each other in case of attack. It was stressed that this principle applies to the Baltic States as well.
The President of Ukraine got warm reception. NATO promised to increase the number of advisers in the country as cooperation is to be boosted in different areas, including bullet-proof jackets and other supplies except arms. The focus of NATO support will be on four areas; rehabilitation for injured troops, cyber defence, logistics, and command and control and communications. NATO’s assistance to Ukraine will amount to around 15 million euros. President Poroshenko said behind closed doors that some individual members will supply weapons on their own but the Ukrainian leader is treated rather skeptically being known for his propensity to news making. The information on arms deliveries to be included in the aid package has not been confirmed. The Ukrainian elite is known to be corrupted so the sum is just enough to meet the needs of only one Ukrainian general who would pocket the money to «modernize» himself and the next of kin.
Secretary General Rasmussen by and large endorsed the Russia’s peace plan with some reservations made. He remained skeptical about the cease fire. Somehow he never puts forward any demands addressed to Kiev calling only on Russia and Donbass self-defence forces to comply.
Jens Stoltenberg, former Prime Minister of Norway, was named NATO Secretary General designate. Sounds funny but Norwegian experts remembered that he was accused of working for the KGB at the start of his career. It made them predict that under his leadership NATO will toe a softer line on Russia.
Now about the things to make one frustrated. Obama and Rasmussen used the language like if they were the same kind of people as Poroshenko or Galetey (Ukrainian Defence Minister).They accused Russia of all kinds of wrongdoing including an incursion into Donbass and sending thousands of troops there. It’s hard to say if the tough rhetoric used is kind of compensation for absence of tough measures, time will tell.
Second, the US exerted enough pressure on the French President to make him say the delivery of the first of two assault navy ships ordered by Russia is halted. Hollande resisted for a long time, the refusal to carry the agreement out will entail penalty and protests staged by shipyard workers. Now the pressure has become too strong.
Still the advocates of tougher line towards Moscow were unsatisfied. It’s enough to have a look at American media outlets: Has NATO Lost its Will as well as its Muscle?, NATO Too Wary of Russian Threats to Let Ukraine Join, Ukraine abandoned. Obama is accused of being irresolute and incoherent again.
Now what we have? The United States finds it more difficult to make NATO take the desired decisions. There is a wide gap between the US and Europe’s interests. The crisis in Ukraine has become an acid test. It does not mean America will not meddle into Ukraine, especially as Obama comes under Republican pressure.
The United States will be looking for other ways to interfere along with loyal allies and some post-Soviet states – Georgia and Moldova. The Islamists should not be turned a blind eye on. The Islamic factor will be used against Russia in Crimea and the Caucasus… The United States will apply efforts to counter the growing Russian influence in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian President is threatened as a result of his acquiescence to cease fire. Of course, he did it as a result of failure to achieve military success in Donbass. Many Ukrainians are under the effect of propaganda and military advances in July-August. They refuse to see reality and put the blame for defeat on traitors. It brings to surface the possibility of third Maidan to make it the main result of the summit.