Wars & Conflicts

NATO Does Not Want Ukraine to Apply for Membership

Now that Ukraine has voted to drop its non-aligned status, we are hearing an official story from Russia that "NATO has pushed Ukraine to do this." Endlessly repeated, it is exactly opposite to the truth. Russia's agression has changed popular opinion in Ukraine. Until recently every poll indicated that a plurality of Ukrainians was opposed to joining NATO -- the only qualification that Ukraine was lacking. NATO, however, still does not want Ukraine to apply. View

Germany: The Economic Perils of More Arms Exports

The consensus in Germany is wrong. Arms exports do not ensure employment and preserve technological capabilities. Fact is that in today's buyers market such exports lead to technology transfer, create tomorrow's competition and destroy the arms industry's own basis. Instead of promoting arms export, the EU governments should consolidate the European arms industry to reduce excess supply and increase joint military procurement and resource-pooling. View

The CIA Torture Report: Et tu, Europe?

The Senate's report has rightly caused outrage around the world. In the United States, the discussion of guilt and its consequences (or lack thereof) is impossible to avoid. Europe should also now look into the mirror and ask itself what portion of guilt it shares. There must be consequences for those who helped orchestrate the crimes against the very principles that Europe's post-WWII order was supposedly built upon. View

The Cost of Ignoring the Plight of Minorities in the Greater Middle East

While the concerted military campaign against the Islamic State (IS) dominates headlines, the international community faces a far greater policy challenge: if it continues to ignore the plight of minorities across the wider Middle East, it will provide ample breeding ground for other radical groups. If state cohesion is eroded through continuous marginalization, political instability, or the disintegration of the state entirely, can be hijacked by extremist groups for their own aims. View

Hungary's Gradual Embrace of Putinism

Hungary's current Prime Minister not only believes in closer ties with Vladimir Putin, but also would like to replicate his authoritarianism in Hungary. Over the last year, there has been much focus on the crisis in Ukraine, little attention has been paid to Hungary's undermining of liberal democratic principles under the current Prime Minister Viktor Orban. These developments in Hungary occur 25 years after the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party dissolved in October 1989. View

The Kremlin Reinvention of Ukraine's History

For two hundred years, Ukraine and Russia have conflicted over Ukraine's history and sovereignty. Recently the Kremlin has tried to rebrand large regions of Ukraine as Novorossiya, or ‘New Russia'. The Ukrainians are fighting back, however. Long-term implications of this change in attitudes have not yet fully dawned on the Kremlin, but it is evident that the Russian invasion has radically altered Ukrainian perceptions of Russia, while reinforcing a sense of Ukrainian identity. View

Assessing the Islamic State WMD threat

Available information demonstrates that the Islamic State is seeking materials necessary for the production of weapons of mass destruction. In order to better assess the threat presented by such a search, it must be analyzed in terms not only of whether such materials have been successfully acquired, but also in terms of intention, financial capability, available expertise, and historical record. Taking these factors together, NATO countries should address this threat quickly. View

After Wales: Further Steps for NATO

The NATO summit in Wales last week didn’t do enough to meet its responsibilities in the external world. Its next steps should include taking meaningful steps in Ukraine, placing permanent troops in Eastern Europe, hitting its spending targets, and more. NATO cannot just take care of itself; it has to actively work towards solutions to problems that will inevitably have an effect on the alliance. View

The Myth that Ukraine Cannot Join NATO While Russia Occupies Some of its Territory

There is the perception that NATO’s treaty prohibits it from granting membership to Ukraine given that it is currently involved in a territorial dispute. This is, however, a myth, as demonstrated by the historical example of Germany’s entrance into NATO amid territorial disputes with the Soviet Union. Though it cannot be claimed that Russia has stirred up disputes solely for this reason, this misconception contributes to making such actions more attractive. View

NATO: American Contribution in Response to Russia Falls Flat

The United Kingdom, joined by several other concerned NATO members, has taken a leadership role in the response to Russian aggression in Ukraine in order to form a new joint expeditionary force. By neglecting to commit support to the endeavor, the US reduces its part to one that fails to live up to historical precedent as a leader in the Atlantic Alliance. Meanwhile, the UK decision to take charge in the absence of American support deserves credit. View

NATO: Three Integral Discussions to Take Place During This Week's Summit

On September 4-5, NATO Heads of State and Government will gather at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. This will be the alliance’s most important summit since the end of the Cold War, a quarter of a century ago. The accepted political order of the last twenty-five years has now been challenged by Russian behaviour in the Ukraine, and NATO now needs to formulate a fresh strategy which takes into account these important metamorphoses’. Three areas specifically deserve the focus of NATO leaders at this week’s summit. View

NATO Should Tread Softly While Re-evaluating its Relationship with Russia

When recalibrating the NATO-Russia relationship at this week's Alliance summit in Wales, policy makers would do well to keep cool heads and focus their attention on long-term strategic interests. Rather than feeding Russian fears of encirclement by adopting a reactionary approach, NATO's posture should instead be based on the recognition that Russia's cooperation is vital for addressing future security challenges pertinent to the transatlantic community. View

How Germany Should Address the Threat of a Large-Scale Conventional Attack

The 2011 German Defence Policy Guidelines state that “a direct territorial threat to Germany involving conventional military means remains an unlikely event”. Though experts may still disagree on the likelihood of the threat, given recent events in Ukraine, there should be consensus about necessity to consider it as a real rather than a hypothetical factor in national defense planning. Germany, due to its geographic location, should even more so approach this issue from practical rather than theoretical perspective. View

Why NATO Should Buy and Operate France's Mistral Carriers

Delivery of the Mistral carriers to Russia would be a strategic disaster. Given that NATO finds consensus on the purchase and funding of the Mistrals, it would send a strong signal to Putin. Operating the Mistrals would not be difficult for NATO, with its decades of experience with combined and joint operations in common structures and standards. The idea that NATO buys these ships from France and operates them makes perfect sense. Of course, there are many obstacles, especially with concern to funding. View

Twitter Highlights: July 2014

With over 4,990 followers on Twitter and counting, we're very close to our summer goal of reaching 5,000 followers. Atlantic-community.org continues to use its social media platforms to share stories relevant to transatlantic relations and to promote published member articles while engaging with the community on both sides of the Atlantic. Our July tweets cover a range of issues, from the foundations of the transatlantic partnership, to ISIS, to energy policy and European security. View

Germany's International Security Role: With or Without Military?

Today's international situation suggests that the need for some form of military intervention in Europe's near-abroad is only likely to increase. The German public remains stubbornly opposed to overseas military "adventures." But if Germany is to follow through on its desire to take on more responsibility for international security, can it do so without developing a more active military profile? Like it or not, Germany may be unable to avoid future military entanglements. View

Expert Q&A: Should the US Cooperate with its Adversaries in Iraq?

The crisis in Iraq has brought in not only the United States, but also countries often at odds with Western Interests: Iran, Russia and Syria are now all involved against the Islamic State (formerly ISIS). Is there room for cooperation between the US and Russia, Syria, or Iran? To get a better handle on this question, we asked two policy experts: Should the West cooperate with these countries in combating the Islamic State? View

Poland Speeds Up Deterrence Weapons Procurement

With Russian military conducting aggressive operations, Poland, which has been apprehensive about NATO’s reaction in case of a low intensity conflict, decided to speed up some of its planned military procurement in order to deter potential aggression and retaliate with force in case of attack. In a few years’ time, NATO's largest east flank country wants to field long range missile systems, modern attack helicopters, three-tier anti-missile shield, and even cruise-missile capable submarines. View

How NGOs Can Help Syria through Russia

Russia has been the greatest hurdle for humanitarian actors in Syria. The United National Security Council was not able to manage any headway on aid access and safety for healthcare workers, until Russia's acquiescence. Instead of waiting for policy-makers to finally reach a solution, non-government organizations should look for other creative ways to bring aid into Syria. One solution would be to reach out to humanitarian entities in Russia and work with them directly. View

Should Finland Join NATO?

The Ukrainian crisis has focused the attention of the international community and global mass media on the region. The annexation of Crimea and the possibility of several regions in eastern Ukraine seceding have been rightly seen as major changes to the post-Cold War geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. At the same time, these events may have an impact on the strategically and geopolitically important country of Finland. Is NATO membership a viable option for the Nordic country? View

No Need for Germany to Rush Acquisition of Armed Drones

The German government is discussing the purchase of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones. While such systems do have advantages from a purely military point of view, the current generation of drones is not likely to be useful in the context of German missions abroad. Rather, their purchase could even be detrimental to the security of German soldiers and broader German foreign policy goals. View

Event Report: The Cost of Peace and Freedom

The Atlantic Initiative held a public event in Berlin in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation on The Cost of Peace and Freedom: What is security worth to us today? The panel included a security expert and a member of the Bundestag's budgetary and defense committees. Panelists discussed Germany's role in global defense alliances in light of the Ukraine crisis and security issues in the Middle East and Africa. View

Little Leeway for Dealing With Putin's Russia

Trust between the West and Russia is converging to zero. Neither is blameless; but while many cite Europe and America’s insensitivity to Russia’s ‘legitimate concerns’ when dealing with Russia and Europe’s shared neighborhood, Western powers face an existential dilemma over how to treat Russian moves against the sovereignty of states in the former Soviet Union. They should improve their communications with Moscow, but not waver in their commitment to Western values. View

Putin's Russia: No Return to Business as Usual

Although the Ukrainian crisis is now showing some signs of easing, the West will still have to continue to deal with Vladimir Putin's Russia, a state that has developed an essentially anti-western foreign policy doctrine. Germany, Russia's biggest gas customer, should not shy away from this unwanted conflict by retreating to the moral high ground. If Germans overlook the annexation of Crimea and the troubles in Ukraine, Russia will feel free to act this way again in the future. View

Three Steps That NATO Needs to Take with Russia

After years of Putin gradually pushing the envelope and expanding his influence, it is past time for NATO to coherently respond to Russia. NATO countries can either stop their public threats and ultimatums towards Russia, or they can match their rhetoric with action outside of simple symbolic sanctions. Continuing the path of rhetoric without action, however, serves only to decrease Western credibility and continue allowing Putin to endanger Russia’s neighbors. View

Security Implications for East Asia Post-Crimea

Many have sought to link the Ukraine crisis to the security situation in East Asia. Voices have been heard warning that China might follow suit in local territorial disputes, while others argue that due to its own internal problems it will stay quiet. But due to China's favorable present global position, it can still balance verbal support of sovereignty and nonviolent solutions outside East Asia while remaining assertive in the region. It is thus unlikely to change its regional posture in the near future View

NATO Needs an "American" Reassurance Initiative

NATO's European members should send a positive message to US lawmakers by organizing their own defense package in Eastern Europe. Obama's "European Reassurance Initiative" asks the US Congress to allocate $1 billion to ramp up the US presence on the territory of European NATO states. A separate package funded by the European allies would show congressmen that Europe is committed to the transatlantic partnership, and would help garner backing for the US initiative. View

Ukraine Should Not Be Dragged Into Shield Debate

Recently, after the Ukrainian crisis began there was much debate on the required security measures to reassure the NATO’s Eastern European members. Some lawmakers have called for a speeding up of the implementation of the NATO missile shield project. To link missile defense with Ukraine would be a self-defeating move however. The shield is not designed to stop Russia’s arsenal and would allow Moscow a free hand to tear up other arms control agreements. View

Friends Like These: the International Community and Ukraine

Russia has violated numerous international agreements, treacherously attacked Ukraine and occupied a part of its territory. Ukrainians are in the process of restoring Kiev's control in the east, despite the neglect of the army under former President Yanukovych. We are thankful to all international organizations and states for the support that Ukraine has received at this very difficult time, but they must do more. Ukraine needs offensive military equipment and real economic sanctions on Russia. View

Eight Recommendations to Help Cool Down Ukraine

Ukraine is in severe danger of losing its eastern territory. The escalation level is rising to military confrontation with the separatists and Russian special forces and a possible open intervention by the Russian Federation as lack of trust in Kiev grows in the east. The US, the EU, and especially Germany, with its strong relations with Moscow, should now pursue a more active double strategy of power and diplomacy, including hard and soft factors of peace keeping. View

Invitation: The Cost of Peace and Freedom, June 25

The Atlantic Initiative would like to invite you to our upcoming event in Berlin, offered in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation. We will discuss implications of the Ukraine Crisis for Germany with security experts and members of the Bundestag’s budgetary and defense committees. We would also like to invite you to contribute your perspectives or to pre-submit any questions you wish to pose to the speakers. For those who cannot attend, please click through to see how you can contribute online. View

German-Polish Partnership Shapes NATO's Eastern Flank Defences

With shrinking military budgets, all eyes at Berlin's ILA air and defence exhibition were on the modernization efforts of the largest countries on NATO's eastern flank: Germany and Poland. Both nations are expected to select providers for much-needed upgrades of their air-and-missile defense systems later this year and, depending on the system each chooses, the pair could become close partners in enhancing NATO’s air-and-missile defense capabilities at a time of renewed tensions with Russia. View

Will the Dragon Follow the Bear?

Putin's tactics have caused a crisis in the European security order and could be copied by rising powers in Asia dissatisfied with their neighborhood's geopolitical status quo. Beijing could cite Ukraine as a precedent for settling border disputes with force. China does not yet feel it is in its national interest to openly defy America's arrangements in East Asia, yet it is confident enough to openly harass and intimidate its regional neighbors when it feels they threaten Chinese interests. View

NATO and Russia: Cold War 2.0 at Sea?

Putin's actions in Ukraine shifts NATO's focus back to Europe. Therefore, maritime security's relevance for the Alliance will suffer. The NATO partnership with Russia is effectively over for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, Russia's new assertiveness has a massive impact on NATO's maritime priorities. Other than expeditionary missions, European home waters are now the theaters of concern. What must be done to defend them? View

A Stronger Hand With Russia: Where is Greater Europe?

Vladimir Putin’s direct challenge to Brussels has become evident with events in Ukraine. The EU needs to react by dropping its non-geopolitical doctrine and forging a muscular common foreign policy. In particular, Germany and Poland’s roles are key, but all European leaders will have to show strength and unity in changing old ideas and biases. A culture of leadership, not management, must be forged, especially after the next European elections in May. View

Beware, Europe! Putin's Appetite Extends Beyond Ukraine

For eastern NATO members, the most frightening aspect of the Ukraine crisis has been the lack of a strong Western response. These states require concrete demonstrations that they can count on their allies' protection should they too come under threat. As of yet, neither Putin nor his potential future targets are convinced that this is the case. Thus, Western leaders must take both symbolic and tactical steps to illustrate their commitment and dissuade further Russian aggression. View

After the Red Line

The red line of the crisis in Ukraine was crossed on 2 May 2014, with the decision by Kiev to use Ukrainian army and interior ministry forces against separatist groups in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. It is the real beginning of a civil war that could lead to the end of the country. All factions in the crisis have a responsibility to act in the narrow window of opportunity left. After this, there will be no more chances to return back to normal life, perhaps for a very long time. View

Europe (Finally) at a Turning Point?

The ongoing Ukraine crisis is hopefully the last straw before Europe’s leaders reset the European project and build new partnerships with America and Russia. Since its inception, the European Union has scored successes in many areas that benefit the political, economic, and social development of the increasing number of member states, yet also many recent failures. Europe’s security has been preserved— but mainly thanks to NATO and its driving force, the United States. View

NATO Jets Train with Nordic Partners

For three weeks NATO Allies have been training air defence flying in Iceland together with first-time participants Sweden and Finland. The Iceland Air Meet 2014 has served to strengthen the interoperability between NATO and partner countries in the context of the Nordic Defence Cooperation. This joint initiative will also allow Nordic states to develop, maintain and use their militaries more efficiently and in a more cost-effective manner amongst themselves. View

Atlantic Community Spring Highlights

It is now the end of the spring quarter, and we wrap up the season with a look back at some of the highlights of early 2014. So far it has been an eventful year for the foreign policy community at large and our members have been especially busy. Presented below are some of the editorial team’s picks for spring 2014’s most significant moments at Atlantic Community. View

Playing the Long Game in Ukraine

Europe and the US must use a long-term strategy to reverse Russia's moves in Ukraine. Helping Kiev to make a democratic Ukrainian state, whose politics and economy contrasts favorably with life in any occupied Russian zone, will play to the soft power appeal of Europe over Russia's military dominance. Since neither Russia nor NATO want a shooting war over Ukraine, the "winner" of this contest will instead be the side which can fulfill the aspirations of Ukraine's heterogeneous population the best. View

Atlantic Community Debates Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine has also inspired strong debate among Atlantic Community members. Featuring a total of ten articles from around Europe and North America, the Ukraine crisis has generated a total of 59 comments. "Only Western-Russian Cooperation Can Stop Ukraine from Fracturing," by Oleg Khlopov of the Russian State University for Humanities, got an impressive 12 comments, but Heinrich Bonnenberg's "EU's Eastern Partnership to Blame for Crisis over Ukraine" generated the most with 15! View

NATO on Duty

NATO on Duty illustrates where the Alliance is working around the clock and around the world, to keep our citizens free and safe now and for the future. From the skies of Iceland to the waters of the Indian Ocean, and from Afghanistan to the Atlantic, men and women from across the Alliance are engaged in military operations and missions to keep our countries safe and make our world more secure. View

Germany Must Take Baltic Security Concerns More Seriously

All NATO member countries have to demonstrate that Baltic freedom and security are not less valuable than Germany's or any other member state's security. Moscow will interpret any sign of hesitation as weakness and act accordingly, argues Dr. Artis Pabriks, member of Latvia's parliament and defense minister until January. In this exclusive article for atlantic-community.org, he asks what would happen if Germany faced the need to go to war for the Baltics as Article 5 of the NATO Treaty requires? View

On Joining NATO: The Day I Changed Colour

2014 is a year when NATO—and its members—have a lot to celebrate. It is the 65th anniversary of the Alliance and the 15th, 10th, and fifth anniversaries of membership for those countries that have joined since the end of the Cold War. In this narrative, Marcela Zelníčková, the first Czech citizen employed by NATO, offers her personal recollections of the day her country's membership took effect and reflects on why joining the Alliance was so momentous. View

Genocide Concerns Us All: Rwanda 20 Years On

On April 6th, it will be 20 years since the killing in Rwanda began. The situations in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria mirror the misery and suffering of men, women and children in Rwanda. Although foreign policy is a complex arena in which to make difficult decisions, especially for Germany, it is imperative that Germans put more pressure on their government to make good on the "never again" attitude that came from these atrocities. View

The Ukraine Crisis and the Potential Revival of NATO

The on-going crisis in Ukraine, in which Russia violated Ukrainian sovereignty and threatened its territorial integrity, is a major test to the NATO's effectiveness. If it passes this test and acts assertively, it may lead to NATO's revival, a highly desirable development from the point of view of Poland and the Baltic states. To do this, NATO must seriously re-evaluate its relations with its Eastern allies as well as Russia. If it fails to pass this test, it may herald the fall of post-Cold War order. View

Atlantic Memo on Drones Presented in Public Panel

Atlantic Memo #46: Defining Global Norms on Drone Policy was presented at a public event in the German Federal Foreign Office. The panel discussion, hosted by atlantic-community.org together with the Politisch-Militärische Gesellschaft (PMG) e.V., brought together a diverse set of voices to consider the military and strategic deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The discussion also connected young academics with established experts in constructive debate on the subject. View

Germany's Prudent Approach to Ukraine

It has become increasingly commonplace in academic and journalistic circles to refer to Germany's responsibility to take the lead in regional and even global affairs. Consequently, Germany's policy surrounding the Russia-Ukraine crisis is under close scrutiny. Berlin is, however, taking a sensible approach in its dealings with Moscow. Crucially, by not resorting to belligerent rhetoric, German diplomacy is allowing Putin to emerge from the crisis without losing face. View

A Crimea in Russia, a Ukraine in NATO, a G7 without Russia?

By offering Ukraine membership, NATO can ensure that Russia loses more than it gains by seizing Crimea. The new government in Kiev can help by reassuring eastern Ukrainians, garnering broad-based public support for NATO membership. Preserving existing language protection laws was an important first step, and Kiev must continue to engage eastern citizens to ensure their support. View