An editorial in today’s Guardian argues that although NATO shouldn’t have to put it in writing that Ukraine and Georgia will never be members, it should halt its expansion because Russia doesn’t like it and there are various conflicts they can exacerbate if they choose to. They recommend a change to Europe’s current security architecture … but nobody seems to have any idea of where to take it. Moscow is OK with this stasis, I think, but it’s still pretty unclear to me how much the war in Georgia helped and damaged Russian interests. But in the politics of NATO containment, the Russians are on a winning streak:
Now, as we all know, there is no such thing as a frozen conflict that remains frozen. South Ossetia proved that in abundance. So Russia’s strained post-cold-war relations with Nato and an enlarged Europe remain vulnerable to another regional crisis breaking out – Nagorno‑Karabakh is one, Trans-Dniester another. Faced with this, it is difficult to maintain that there is no need to change the organisations that govern security in Europe. First, because there are still disputed borders in Europe and they have to be dealt with. Second, because one third of the population of Europe lies outside Nato’s area. And third, because the status quo can degenerate quickly. So although there should be no Russian veto over what alliance Ukraine seeks to join, neither can Nato expand, as it has in the past, in a manner that ignores Russia’s security needs. Europe indeed needs a new security architecture if it is to put the cold war behind it.