Meeting the challenges of the return of direct defense in Europe
Since 2014, with the capture of Crimea by Russia, it has been clear that President Putin has an agenda to expand Russia. The current Ukrainian-Russian war is in the next stage. How can Europe and NATO best meet this challenge?
BG (retired) Preziosa ended our conversation by discussing the nature of the challenges facing democracies and some key points on how to meet these challenges.
Preziosa returned to the early 1990s and pointed out that the nuclear deal reached at that time laid the foundation for the current crisis. Here’s how he said it: “John J. Mearsheimer in a Foreign Affairs The article a year before the one in Budapest argued that a denuclearized Ukraine was positive neither for Kyiv nor for the stability of the Central and Eastern European quadrant. Mearsheimer added that the widespread belief at the time, also promoted by then-US President Bill Clinton, was wrong regarding the benefits of Ukraine’s denuclearization.
Preziosa then quoted President Macron’s view of the new situation facing Europe and the United States.
“President Macron in an interview with Étien Gernelle said that we are at the beginning of a new era and that war has returned to Europe since the Yugoslav troubles. A nuclear armed power threatens nuclear attack for the sake of territorial aggrandizement and this is a big change in the grammar of deterrence.
Preziosa argued that the current Russian aggression against Ukraine is fundamentally different from Crimea. “If in 2008 in Georgia and in 2014 in Ukraine, Russia intervened in reaction to other events, this time it deliberately chose war, and it is a big break with the past. The break comes from the gradual trend of Vladimir Putin from 2008 in Georgia with the perception of a possible enlargement of NATO followed by Western weakness in Syria in 2013 where chemical weapons were used.
“Putin convinced himself, about a betrayal of the 1990 agreements, of an enlargement of NATO with a desire to annihilate his country, of having been abandoned by the West in the Caucasian crisis, essential for Moscow above all because they are aligned with Islam terrorism.Western countries did not understand the consequences in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea and the secession of Donbass.
He added: “Putin launched an offensive operation based on the perceived weakness of the West. and deduced that Western democracies were weak.
He quoted Macron: “All this does not happen in a day. But today the bill arrived.
He noted that there are significant global fallout from the war in Ukraine and certainly in Europe. “The events in Ukraine are destabilizing for the Western Balkans which are subject to Turkish, Russian and Chinese influences. The hot spot in the Balkans is Kosovo, which never achieved political stability with Serbia.
In addition to the Russian challenge, China is also strengthening its global reach and capabilities. As Preziosa said: China is challenging America’s role as the world’s sole superpower.
As a result of China’s expanding influence, spheres of global dominance are projected for the future between authoritarian and democratic powers.
“Since market liberalization in 1978, China’s economy has doubled every eight years. Four of the largest banks in the world (by assets) are in China, in the era of easy money, and they are the largest creditors in the world.
“America’s era of singular dominance is being challenged in multiple strategic areas, with several second-order outcomes. Recent trade wars have caused fractures between the two nations’ trade relations. Settlement of cross-border trade in renminbi instead of US dollars has increased exponentially since 2010. China’s Belt & Road Initiative has signed agreements with 138 countries. Globally, there are more than 3,485 megaprojects supported by the Chinese government.
“Great power competition with a clear distinction between the goals of democracies and authoritarian powers.”
But democracies themselves face divisions not just among themselves but within each democratic state. Finding cohesion where possible is crucial in charting a course for dealing with authoritarian challenges on a global scale.
Preziosa stressed that “in the United States and Europe, much remains to be done to put their political systems in order and preserve the political and economic strength of the world’s major democracies.”
And his own country, Italy, certainly faces fundamental security challenges as well as political challenges that must be addressed as part of a comprehensive response to the defense challenges posed by authoritarian powers.
As he concluded: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has highlighted the extremely risky nature of Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow. The secondary effect of the Ukrainian crisis affects the Middle East and North Africa in terms of energy issues and food security.
“The fear is that discontent will generate new waves of instability and migration flows to Italy and Europe. Italy is one of the European countries most dependent on Russian energy supplies, and the energy issue can only assert itself as the first point to be addressed. The first step taken by Italy was to turn to third countries that produce and export energy, to diversify our sources of supply and to pursue our energy security. This strategy involved both African countries and North African countries such as Egypt, Algeria and Egypt.
“Italy must also find internal political stability to shape not only its path forward, but also to play the kind of role needed to expand European influence and cohesion in the face of the 21st authoritarian challenges of the century.
For the first two coins in this series, see the following:
Air power to shape a way forward in European defense
And for our book dealing with the authoritarian challenges of European direct defence, see the following: