The crisis in Ukraine and its peculiar nuclear dimension has come to epitomise the features of the strategic politics in Europe.
NATO’s Nuclear Posture
In the old Cold War in Europe, there was only one serious flashpoint, one place where a dangerous confrontation between Western and Russian forces was likely, and that was Berlin. In today’s confrontation there are many, stretching from the Caucuses to the Baltic Sea.
Despite a renewed sense of purpose with a change in leadership and the crisis in Ukraine, the alliance continues to court its own irrelevancy.
NATO heads of state meet in Newport, south Wales for their summit at the end of this week. The relationship with Russia will dominate the agenda—the only question being how far member states are openly willing to go to face down Moscow in the conflict over Ukraine.
As NATO defence ministers met in Brussels this week, the principal items on the agenda have been the long-planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the fall-out from Russia's annexation of the Crimea and instability in eastern Ukraine. Member states close to or bordering Russia are looking to their allies for stronger security assurances, particularly regarding Article V commitments implying that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all. In the current climate of hostility to Putin’s Russia, stronger allies, particularly the United States, UK and France, seem only too ready to provide them.
The current security crisis in Crimea has, up to this point in time, mostly involved conventional army and navy forces of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Nuclear weapons, however, have the potential to rear their ugly head. Both the United Kingdom and the United States have particular responsibilities too, as signatories to the 1994 agreement on security assurances for Ukraine,
Foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Council will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels this week. Chaired by NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, this meeting will likely begin preparations for the 2014 NATO Summit to be held 4-5 September in Newport, South Wales. It is also likely that this week’s meeting will continue the discussions on “Defence Matters”,
London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS; what – you haven’t applied for membership yet?) recently published their annual review of world affairs, Strategic Survey 2013. In its chapter on strategic policy issues, the Survey covers an important topic, the complex nuclear arms race underway in South Asia among India, Pakistan and China.