Shaking up Europe’s security architecture

Contact Counsellor

Shaking up Europe’s security architecture

  • The commencement of Russian military action in Ukraine is due to the instability in the post-Cold War security order.
  • It seeks a modus vivendi with Russia and disengagement from conflicts in Europe and West Asia, to enable a sharper U.S. focus on domestic challenges and the external challenge from its principal strategic adversary, China.

Putin’s terms

  • Russia saw this re-engagement as an opportunity to revive Russia’s flagging economy and expand its freedom of political action globally.
  • Russia has repeatedly articulated its grievances: that NATO’s expansion violated promises made prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union; that Ukraine’s accession to NATO would cross Russia’s red lines; and that NATO’s strategic posture poses a continuing security threat to Russia.
  • NATO’s expansion as a politico-military alliance, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, was at the U.S.'s initiative. It was intended to temper European ambitions for strategic autonomy from the sole superpower and to counter Russia’s resurgence.

NATO’s weakened glue

  • The current crisis in Ukraine has illustrated the divisions and exposed the limitations of the U.S.’s ability to bridge them.
  • The irony is that the divisions are of the U.S.’s making. Its pressure on NATO in 2008 to recognize Ukraine’s membership aspirations and its encouragement for a change of government in Kyiv in 2014, provoked the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Energy security

  • For Germany, the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) Russia-Germany gas pipeline is the cheapest source of gas for its industry. Others deem it a geopolitical project, increasing European dependence on Russian energy.
  • The U.S.'s “geopolitical” argument against NS2 dovetails neatly with its commercial interest in exporting LNG to Europe, reinforced by U.S. legislation for sanctions against companies building gas pipelines from Russia.
  • Increasing LNG exports to Europe is explicitly stated as a motivation for the sanctions. European countries that oppose NS2 are ramping up their LNG import infrastructure to increase imports from the U.S.

Outlook for India

  • It will have to balance the pressure from one strategic partner to condemn the violation of international law, with that from another to understand its legitimate concerns
  • Geopolitics, however, is a long game, and the larger context of the U.S.-China rivalry could, at some point in the not too distant future, reopen the question of how Russia fits into the European security order.