Europe's Problem Are Not Green Men but Jeeps with Black Flags

Novinite Insider | May 8, 2015, Friday // 06:46
Bulgaria: Europe's Problem Are Not Green Men but Jeeps with Black Flags Photo: www.temadaily.com

Novinite is publishing an analysis by Simeon Nikolov, Director of the Center for Strategic Research in the field of Security and Internal Relations, a Bulgaria-based think-tank.

Mr Nikolov, a diplomat and a former Deputy Defense Minister (2005-2008), has submitted this analysis when asked to comment on Russia-EU relations before the 70th anniversary since World War II ended and former allies are marking May 8 and May 9 by treading separate ways.

Paying respect to the victims of a war is a moral act, and the condemnation of crimes of fascism and its ideology are linked to fundamentals of international politics and the European and democratic community. For these two reasons, there is no ground to justify the refusal to take part in the commemoration of 70 years since the end of World War Two with present-day policies of one of the countries that took part in this war.

Leaders of states which declined attendance on this day made a big mistake and this assessment was already voiced by many world-renowned and wise politicians so that we needn't doubt about it. Analysts will not forget to note the pressure under which some leaders took the decision and to speculate on the question if this is a step toward justifying fascism, given the current alliance with its "heirs" in Ukraine and the support from the Kiev regime, which officially reinstated with a parliament decision an organization whose blood-tainted crimes are still remembered, especially by the Poles. Denying Russia's role in victory is not just an interpretation of Moscow. After Ukraine, there are already politicians in Western Europe, with the recent example of [ruling] Christian Democratic Union in Germany, denying the need of voicing gratitude to Moscow and introducing the discussion to the field of crimes of the Stalinist regime. Refusing to acknowledge that there would have been no Europe Day without a Victory Day could hardly be perceived by a European with a common sense.

Boycotting the World War Two anniversary symbolizes two things. First, forces backing a militaristic path against Russia in the name of attaining geopolitical and geo-economic goals still dominate. And second, at the level of the Euro-Atlantic leadership there is no capacity of admitting to one's own mistakes and realism about the repercussions of a further escalation. This confirms the expectations that symptoms about an end to the Ukraine crisis will appear when accusations are directed to all parties concerned, and not only to one of them, the Russian one in this particular case. This is what has started to happen, though, despite the debate over the 70th anniversary. The EU asked Kiev to abide by the Minsk agreements as well; there was a clear denial of Ukrainian membership to NATO and a delay for a prospective EU accession; an increasing number of high-level opinions are against sending arms [to Ukraine]; a breakthrough was achieved in talks between Kiev and the People's Donetsk Republic, with meetings between work groups scheduled for May 16-19.

At a geopolitical level one notes that the US, and gradually NATO as well, are beginning to rearrange the threats, with Islamic State topping the list since the end of 2014, replacing Russia, and just days ago, with the Cyber defense Strategy, this process of pushing the Ukraine crisis down continued to deepen. Both Washington and Brussels realize that Ukraine is on the brink of an economic collapse and prolonged political destabilization which might lead other regions to ask autonomy. Neither the US nor the EU could bear the economic burden of supporting such an ally. However, it is a very comfortable millstone to throw onto the neck of Russia to achieve the goal of its economic exhaustion, causing mass discontent across the country and toppling down President Vladimir Putin. Moscow, however, will neither agree to incorporate the two republics in Eastern Ukraine nor take a commitment to all cover all the expenses for reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed there, something for which Western-backed Ukrainian forces are to blame.

The EU is not threatened by Moscow, but by itself. This is why everybody followed the UK general election which such attention. This is why mass protests are staged against the opaque negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP). This is why tensions are rocking Greece and these problems are expected to follow in Spain and Portugal. Recently, the new European program for internal security was adopted for the 2015-2020 period, including three priorities: terrorism and radicalization as substantial threats to the EU's internal security; organized crime which also supports and provides funding for terror acts; cyber crime.

The real threat to the EU comes from the already successful attempts of the US at making technologically developed Europe drift apart from the resource-rich Russia and imposing its own rules through the TTIP along with an expensive shale gas. The military predominance of the US allows it to exert that pressure. But the reaction of Germany both after the first reports of wiretapping last year and now, over the past few days, and also the sharp rebuking from Chancellor Angela Merkel with regard to statements from a NATO general undermining her effort to peacefully settle the Ukraine crisis, together with France's position and the report submitted to Parliament by the French military intelligence chief showing Russia does not intend on preparing a war, the move by various EU member states to call themselves against [the extension] of economic sanctions - all these are signals to Washington that Europe realizes the risks and damages and will not resignedly accept everything it is being told.

The risk of passing from a "hot phase" of the war, however, remains very high, despite the fact that a possible direct military clash with Russia is more natural for the period after 2017 due to the overlapping of many political, economic and military factors. The intensive hybrid war that is being led on both sides is the real risk, since its concealed and evident methods suggest a movement on the edge between the apparent peace and a hot war.

The series of NATO military drills which began on April 07 will need in November, containing some moments of concern in their planning. For instance, the Noble Jump 2015 envisages the deployment of forces to defend a "friendly country" which has been "infiltrated by terrorists" with the aim of provoking a state crisis despite the fact that it is not a member of NATO. The exercise in Szczecin (Poland) due in November for its part is not about support for a "friendly" country but for a member state, and the main drill in the autumn, called Trident Juncture, is about "saving" an African state where a neighboring country is trying to tap on its natural resources through a hybrid war.

Risks to Bulgaria stem both from the security environment and from ourselves - from our politics and from the state of the economy and our army. The refusal of a President, a Prime Minister and even a minister to take part in the Moscow celebrations, as well as the lacking and inadequate explanation to such behavior, only contributes further for the deepening of divisions within the Bulgarian society. In the last documents (Report on the State of the Armed Forces and the Development Program 2020) a trend continues which dates back to the time of the interim government [August-November 2014] and which interprets threats predominantly as a hybrid war coming from Russia. This does not fully meet anymore the EU's approach in the documents now being in preparation for the next summit in June. Apart from that, the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense uses wording such as "a deterioration of the environment in Southeast Europe", even though there are no well-grounded forecasts about this - unless there is the idea of a large-scale provocation aiming the involvement in a war. The move by the US Secretary of State's aide Ms [Victoria] Nuland to name Bulgaria a "front line" has fueled concerns of precisely that development.

The risk of an abrupt transition of the hybrid war in which Bulgaria is actively taking part (since the information warfare, sanctions, forceful suspension of energy projects are all part of it) into a phase of a "hot war" is high, because there should be no "clinging of arms" if we don't want to be reproached for double standards. And military men know from their lectures at the National Military Academy that every drill might be a cover-up and might grow into a real war.

The psychological forms of mass effect on the population that inevitably accompany the preparation of war, such as the suggestions that Russia might threaten the territorial integrity of Bulgaria when it has neither territorial claims nor the economic might to fight a large-scale war, only diverts the attention from real threats on which the US and Europe are already setting their eye. This is why it is much more likely that we don't see "green men" on the sea shore, but jeeps waving black flags of Islamic State coming from the south along our new highways.

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Tags: Simeon Nikolov, analysis, Russia, Ukraine, EU, WW II, anniversary, celebrations, Moscow, armed forces
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