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Posts Tagged ‘ Nato ’

Realpolitik: Big Boy Games, Big Boy Rules

merkel

Today we learned of a fracture in the western alliance system as French and German leaders head off to Russia for peace talks on the Ukrainian crisis. This is a desperate and misguided attempt to reach a resolution, which in all likelihood is going to fail. The inescapable fact is that Russia is an aggressive state with a belligerent leader, who has thus far only played the realpolitik game. Already torn up is the German-brokered ceasefire from late 2014, not to mention treaties from the nineties which guaranteed Ukrainian border integrity. Without anyone effectively challenging Putin, there is no reason to believe that he will sit down and settle a political solution. The famed strongman of world politics will only back down and make terms when the alternative for him, continued belligerence, is the worse option.

One can only wonder where Angela Merkel’s reputation as the Iron Lady of Europe came from. So far she has only continually reiterated her country’s unwillingness to fight or supply arms to the Ukrainians as well as opposing proposals for new stationing of NATO troops in Eastern European countries. This stance is undoubtedly popular in a Germany which is still dealing with war guilt towards Russia and is more sceptical of its relationship with the United States. Merkel has also previously been praised for her understanding of Russia, having grown up in East Germany and for her fluent Russian. However her understanding had an obvious blind spot in the Crimea crisis. German-backed energy deals with Russia were no hindrance to the illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of East Ukraine. Europe has effectively been caught with its pants down. Continue reading

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Crisis Year: International Relations 2014

putin

In a morose way, 2014 has been a fascinating year for those with an interest in International Relations. Resurgent Russia and Islamic State have presented two prominent challenges to western liberal world order. The optimistic ‘end of history’ liberalism of the 1990’s now feels like a golden bygone era of stability and prosperity. In its place is a world where the hegemonic power of the United States is limited by insurgencies and despotic powers. In the field of international relations, realist scholars have had a long awaited ‘we told you so moment’. John Mearsheimer has ruffled many feathers with his article in Foreign Affairs ‘Why the Crisis in Ukraine is the West’s Fault’. Regardless of how palatable it is, Mearsheimer’s argument is frustratingly robust, and he presents credible counters to his critics. EU and NATO expansion has encroached into a region that Russia considers critical to its own security, and the latter has firmly drawn a line in the sand, violating international treaties and norms in a display of pure power politics. Although Russia is paying a price, it has asserted itself outside of its own borders in a way that the west cannot prevent. It seems that at long last, balancing is occurring, and the ‘rest’ are pushing back against the ‘west’ after a decade of diminishing US legitimacy and soft power. Continue reading

Turkish Unrest Spreads As Erdogan Remains Defiant

Protesters clashed with police across Turkey overnight despite an apology for police violence from the Deputy Prime Minister designed to halt an unprecedented wave of protest against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Pro-government newspapers signaled a softening of Ankara’s line in the absence of Erdogan, who flew off on a state visit to north Africa on Monday night after a weekend of rioting critics were inflamed by his denunciations of protesters. Continue reading

Suicide Bomber Brings Terror To Russian Airport

A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people at Russia’s busiest airport on Monday, state TV said, in an attack on the capital that bore the hallmarks of militants fighting for an Islamist state in the North Caucasus region.

President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to track down and punish those behind the bombing, which also injured over 150 people, during the busy late afternoon at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport. The dead included some foreigners.

Islamist rebels have vowed to take their bombing campaign from the North Caucasus to the Russian heartland in the year before presidential elections, hitting transport and economic targets. They have also leveled threats at the 2014 Winter Olympic, scheduled for the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, a region some militants consider “occupied.”

Dense smoke filled Domodedovo’s international arrivals hall and a fire burned along one wall.

“Taxi drivers lined up in the arrivals hall were blown up. Pieces of their bodies covered us and my left ear doesn’t hear very well at all,” Artyom Zhilenkov, 30, told Reuters as he pointed to pieces of human flesh on his coat.

Thick drops of blood were scattered across the snow-covered tarmac outside the arrivals hall, where Interfax news agency said traces of shrapnel were found.

Two Britons were among the dead, media cited investigative committee spokesman Vladimir Markin as saying, and French, Italians, and Germans were in hospitals, though this could not be immediately confirmed with their embassies. Planes from across Europe had landed in the half hour leading up to the attack.

“I heard a loud boom… we thought someone had just dropped something. But then I saw casualties being carried away,” a check-in attendant who gave her name as Elena told Reuters at Domodedovo, which is some 22 km (14 miles) southeast of Moscow.

The prosecutor’s office said the bomb had been classified as a terrorist attack — the largest since twin suicide bombings on the Moscow metro rocked the Russian heartland in March.

“The blast was most likely carried out by a suicide bomber.”

State television said the blast was the work of a “smertnik,” or suicide bomber. State-run RIA, quoting Markin, said the bomber most likely had a belt laden with explosives.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous act of terrorism” and offered Moscow help. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was shocked, state TV said.

A decade after federal forces drove separatists from power in Chechnya in the second of two wars, the mainly Muslim North Caucasus is wracked by violence.

Medvedev, who has called the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus the biggest threat to Russian security, wrote on Twitter: “Security will be strengthened at large transport hubs.”

“We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport. The organizers will be tracked down and punished.”

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