NATO conducted Anakonda 16 – a military exercise in Poland in the second week of June, 2016. More than 30000 troops from 24 countries were involved in the event.. It is one of largest military exercises in the post Cold War era in the Eastern Europe, with the US providing more than 14000 troops.
On the other hand, Russia is repetitively accusing NATO of pursuing a policy which is aggressive and can alter the security balance of the post Cold War era. NATO has been breaking its promises by expanding towards Eastern and Central Europe. Vladimir Putin questioned the relevance of the expansion towards the East after the end of the Cold War. Due to this, Russia is also enhancing its military presence in the area.
In April of 2016, the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 Fencers did close passes very near to the USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea. Russia has been developing its capabilities in Kaliningrad. It has already deployed the S-400 air defense system and Iskander-M missiles. Russia can also swiftly move its land – based anti-ship missiles to Kaliningrad, if they need to. The Iskander has range of up to 500 kilometers. Poland is in range of them. Due to persisting conflict and tension, devices of consultation and cooperation between the two sides have grown inefficient.
Cooperation between Russia and NATO has been halted ever since the crisis in Ukraine. Although Russia and NATO did hold a meeting in 2016 almost after two years, they could not iron out their differences. The NRC meeting ended without any agreements on reducing the risks of close military encounters between both sides.Increasing military measures have the potential to affect arms control treaties between Russia and the US. Russia has alleged that missile defense system violates the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
On the other hand, the US has also expressed concerns over Russian violation of the same treaty. Russia is in the process of major strategic modernization programme, which involves production of new ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and ballistic missile submarines.24 To counter the threats from missile defense, Russia is developing new ICBMs with particular attention to their ability to penetrate the US missile shield. Sergey Karakayev, Russia’s Strategic Missile Force Commander, said that capabilities of Russian ballistic missiles would be increased by reducing ICBM’s acceleration section and introducing new types of warheads with the flight path, which would be not be easy to predict.
He also said, ‘Russian missiles are also capable of delivering warheads via energy optimal trajectory and of striking from multiple directions.’Security dynamics of Nordic region is shifting as well. Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden have signed a joint declaration to improve their military cooperation in terms of increased joint military exercises, exchange of intelligence and stronger defence industries. The factor which determines their move is a changed security environment in the area. These countries believe that the crisis in Ukraine and military activity in the region have changed the environment. The US supports this cooperation of these states. The US is working to further enhance defense cooperation with the Nordic countries.
Finland and Sweden are not members of NATO, but they joined the military exercise in Poland, June 2016. Finland and Sweden pursue a policy of strategic neutrality. They are now inclined to expand cooperation with NATO.
Russia shares a 1300 kilometer long border with Finland, increasing cooperation of Finland and Sweden with NATO might not be liked by Russia.Currently, the situation in the south eastern part of the European surroundings – Middle East and North Africa – is delicate. Tension between NATO and Russia is affecting the political situation in the Middle East.
Though Russia and US are currently engaged in consultation, fundamental differences and diverse strategic goals might not easily lead towards a possible solution. Any violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed oblast (province) between Armenia and Azerbaijan, would threaten energy security of NATO allies. Violence suddenly erupted in month of April, 2016.
Russia played an active role in calling truce in four days.Economic consequences have created differences in the EU over policy towards Russia. Some of the EU member states do not favour the extension of economic sanctions against Russia because they share comprehensive economic linkages and rely on Russian energy supply. Hungary and Greece openly criticized economic sanctions and Italy wanted discussion over extension of sanctions in January 2016. Recently, France’s lower house of parliament has voted in favour of not extending EU sanctions against Russia.ConclusionPolitical and security structures evolving in Europe are not inclusive. Russia remains out of the security architecture placed in Europe.
Political mistrust between Russia and the West has further escalated. Both are taking precautions and counter measures to balance each other out in Eastern Europe regions around it. Several twists and turns have emerged in their relations in the post Cold War era. Russia seems to be disillusioned about the West after the NATO enlargement and escalation of military activity in its neighbourhood.
Consequently, Russia has also begun to take measures to deal with emerging challenges in its neighbourhood. Some of the Eastern European countries are demanding greater military presence of NATO, while some are condemning it as they are dependant on Russia. The next NATO summit seems to be important as NATO countries will discuss changed regional security environment and are expected to decide future course of action in Eastern Europe. Military escalation of NATO in Eastern Europe can fuel more competition and political rivalry with Russia.