“The Cold War will not go away even in the most optimistic scenario”
Russia has confirmed that consultations with the United States on security guarantees may take place as early as January 10th. During the meeting, the issue of Ukraine and arms control will be discussed. Earlier, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance Jens Stoltenberg announced the decision to convene a meeting of the NATO-Russian Council on January 12. The experts told what to expect from these negotiations.
Representatives of the Russian Federation and the United States on January 10, within the framework of a dialogue on strategic security, will hold talks on the situation around Ukraine, security in Europe, as well as on arms control, AFP reports with reference to a spokesman for the White House National Security Council. “The United States looks forward to dialogue with Russia,” the source said.
Moreover, according to the representative of the National Security Council, on January 12, a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council may take place, and already on January 13 – negotiations between representatives of the Russian Federation and the OSCE.
“When we sit down at the negotiating table, Russia can express its concerns, and we will state ours, including about the activities of the Russian Federation, “- said the representative of the US National Security Council. At the same time, any agreements with Moscow will take into account the interests of Kiev, the American official stressed.
“These will be very difficult negotiations,” comments on MK Alexei Makarkin, First Vice President of the Center for Political Technologies, Professor at the Higher School of Economics … – The main point on them is the issue of guarantees of NATO's non-expansion to Ukraine and Georgia. Russia here has put forward a demand that the results of the 2008 Bucharest summit be canceled. In turn, this is unacceptable for the North Atlantic Alliance, since here we are talking about legal fixation. Other issues – including missiles, exercises, and so on – can be discussed.
Now, in fact, a new version of the Cold War is underway. If we look at its old version (40-50 years ago), then the issues of missiles were actively discussed there. Then these topics passed into the technical phase – in some ways the parties agreed, in others they did not. In principle, this was considered quite possible. At the same time, earlier the question of admitting new members to NATO was not relevant (at least in the area of the Soviet border), because the red lines following the results of the Second World War had already been drawn.
Therefore, a rather unusual situation is now emerging for the Cold War. Here it will be very difficult for the parties to find some mutually acceptable option. Because, on the one hand, Russia does not trust oral promises. In addition, time is passing quickly – even if we take a realistic time frame that within the next 10 years neither Ukraine nor Georgia will be admitted to NATO. And, probably, the realization of this fact is one of the incentives for Russia to initiate these negotiations.
On the other hand, the West also has two key points. First, NATO does not want to allow Russia to influence its internal decisions. Secondly, in this case, Georgia and Ukraine may be disappointed in the alliance, which NATO would not like to admit either. ”
According to the expert, there are two possible options in this situation. One of them is that the parties will still manage to come to an agreement, moreover, on a wider range of issues or even on a big compromise between Russia and the West. Moreover, some other questions may be connected, not only those that were originally stated.
“The pessimistic scenario is that it will not be possible to reach an agreement,” continues Alexey Makarkin. – The parties will try to shift the responsibility for the failure onto each other. And in this case, the negotiations will be short-lived, since Moscow is interested in setting some informal terms. If it fails to do this, then there will be a new stage in the arms race and the possible deployment of missiles in sensitive territories for one side or the other.
Meanwhile, if the negotiations fail, the level of mistrust will be extremely high. Moreover, even with the most optimistic scenario, the “cold war” will not go away. However, it will accept a certain framework that can be regulated. Within this framework, confidence in countries can be increased. Another option is the Cold War, in which there is no framework or trust. “
Sergei Kislitsyn, head of the Center for Strategic Planning Studies, IMEMO RAN, is skeptical about the upcoming negotiations.
“Russia is trying to get guarantees that NATO will not expand, which, of course, the alliance will never guarantee,” the political scientist noted. – The heads of NATO member states and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about this. Accordingly, this is where the sides run into. And they don't really have any other interaction. There is also no interaction through the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Her work has been suspended, she can only meet on some urgent matters.
In fact, we have nothing but confrontation. One way or another, there are no grounds for any kind of trusting interaction now.
Arms control is a completely different story. There is a dialogue here between Russia and the United States. However, it is very pragmatic and tied to dry issues of security. Now we should expect some changes in this system largely due to the strengthening of other subjects of international relations, in particular China. It may be recalled that the administration of former US President Donald Trump just wanted to drag China into the arms control system.
As for Ukraine, it is an important factor for American foreign policy, since the tension in relations between Moscow and Kiev allows Washington to use this as an incentive to increase NATO's intra-bloc discipline. ”