EU and NATO just failed another test

Soviet and Russian flags raised above the North Pole. From Dmitri Rogozin's twitter

Soviet and Russian flags raised above the North Pole. From Dmitri Rogozin's twitter 

Military analysis

Article by: Nicole Gallina

Russia is continually testing NATO and the European Union by now – be it with constant military activities (especially in the Baltic Sea) or in maintaining political relations with many European politicians and states with the goal to split the EU in order to prevent further sanctions and weapon deliveries to Ukraine.

Right now, the planned drive-through of the Russian bike gang “Night Wolves” from Moscow to Berlin is a major issue in all eastern European countries affected. Even Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka – who are not known for their public condemnation of Russia’s aggressive steps (to put it mildly) – called it a provocation. The ride shall be the Russian regime’s answer for NATO’s recent “Dragoon Ride” through eastern Europe.

The “Night Wolves” are a perfect example of Russia continually expanding and “innovating” its hybrid war methods.

They even have more to offer: A few days ago, something extraordinary happened – European politicians and main stream media (concerning the German-speaking press only the Austrian Der Standard had an article on the affair) were so stunned that they decided to just ignore the incident.

What happened? On 18 April 2015, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin arrived on Svalbard – also known as Spitsbergen – that is under Norwegian sovereignty, most likely by a charter aircraft. Rogozin is in charge of the Russian defense industry and reportedly head of Russia’s State Commission for Arctic Development. Additionally, Rogozin was an ambassador to NATO from 2008 until 2011 in Brussels (So, he also knows the environment of the EU bureaucracy very well).

Given Russia’s expansionist claims, the moves of a person with such a background should be closely monitored (where are the western intelligence services?). Even more as Rogozin is on the EU-sanctions list, and also blacklisted by Norway. This means, authorities have to ensure he does not enter the respective territories. But he just did that. BarentsObserver wrote that Norwegian authorities were not aware Rogozin appeared on Svalbard.

The tricky thing is that the Svalbard Treaty of 1920 allows Russia to maintain commercial (i.e. mining) operations including residential rights. Rogozin headed from the main setttlement Longyearbyen to the Russian-Ukrainian mining town of Barentsburg. At the same time, a vessel group headed by the Russian Northern Fleet’s “Severomorsk” was conducting anti-air and anti-vessel drills in the Norwegian Sea (he probably was also briefed on that).

Rogozin and the Arctic commission’s members then went ahead and opened the new Russian drifting ice-station North Pole-2015, and then flew to the geographical North Pole. On this occasion Rogozin tweeted: “the Arctic is the Russian Mecca”.

Russia is militarizing its Arctic frontier since several months: It is constructing ten Arctic search-and-rescue stations, 16 deepwater ports, 13 airfields, and ten air-defense radar stations across the Russian Arctic coast as Business Insider reported. They remarked NATO was divided concerning its role in the Arctic, but NATO-member Norway considered itself a leader in promoting NATO’s role in the Arctic.

There was no official NATO response to Russia’s provocation in Norway. This has to be taken very seriously. Seemingly, NATO does not consider Svalbard a territory NATO has to take care of, and has no answer to Russia’s actions on the North Pole.

All Norway could do was to summon the Russian ambassador (under sarcastic comments of the Russian media and politicians).

The EU also failed the test. Norway is not a member of the European Union, but it has followed the EU on the sanctions against Russia. A breach of the de facto common sanction list would definitely require an official statement of the EU. But this was not done, and the sanction’s list ridiculed.

The incident underlined again that the EU is only a minor player in the game with Russia (and that EU bureaucrats live in their own world). More importantly, it has shown to the Russian leadership that NATO – despite of the promise given to its members to study and tackle hybrid warfare – is not ready to counter hybrid warfare.

Guess where Russia will test next NATO’s resolve…

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  • Morris

    I could not disagree with this. The West (EU, NATO) is to much byrocratized since the Ende of Cold War and there no truth leaders neither among EU nor among NATO politicians. Lack of action, endless discussions, “face maintenance” and pragmatic (in the worst possible way) approach are tools of West. I wonder how far will Kremlin go and how large is EU and NATO patience. Next strike in Ukraine with enormous propaganda campaign of Kremlin media to euthanize West for a while before next move.

    • RecycleBin

      You are woefully misinformed, Michalinlondon (perhaps Russia lied to you). None of the Balkan countries have been annexed by the US, in contrast with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. If you are so keen to experience the effects of nuclear war, perhaps you could just leave the rest of us out of it and ask Mr. Putin for a cup of tea.

  • Murf

    With this Russia is showing that NATO can not be strong everywhere and that they will attack any where.
    Guess what those Mistrals would be used for?

    • Morris

      I will go for Tom Clancy “Red Storm Rising”. Seriously.Maybe the landscape will change. It will be not vicinity of Hamburg or Niedersachen but something else.

  • Czech Friend

    So it seems no Russian thugs will come. Shame. We were looking forward to welcome them as they deserved…

  • Gryzelda Wrr

    Polish PM Ewa Kopacz has condemned Russian aggression several times. She had a major incident with Mr Orban of Hungary over this matter, She is not so mouthy as Tusk or Sikorski, but she is following the same line.

    • Melp

      my condolences, he was an impressive person

      “Witness, role model, reconciler Wladyslaw Bartoszewski died

      Former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski is dead. Despite his
      advanced age of 93 years, the news of his death came as a surprise. Therefore, a great sadness.

      A contemplative retired life was not his idea of ​​the evening of his life. Even with 93 years, the former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski published, worked, raised his hand and interferes. On Friday night he died in a Warsaw hospital after a bout of weakness. The news of his death spread President Bronislaw Komorowski and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the short message service Twitter.

      Politicians of all parties expressed concerned about the death of the historian and
      politician, who was considered a century character and moral authority in his home. “A great Pole is dead. This is a tremendous loss,” Komorowski said.

      Also the Warsaw Foreign Ministry and the Cabinet Office published with the short message service, the message of death. “This is a very sad day for all of us,” tweeted Donald Tusk, the EU Council President and former Polish Prime Minister.

      That he would have such a long life, the in 1922 born Bartoszewski did not though at the age of 19 years. At that time he was a prisoner in Auschwitz with the number 4427 and experienced for the first time in his life, “the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of abuse of human beings,” as he later told often. Bartoszewski, who had worked prior to his arrest for the Polish Red Cross, was lucky – he was dismissed seriously ill in April 1941. Back in Warsaw, he joined the Polish resistance movement. He studied in the underground and was one of the founders of the “Zegota”, a resistance group, organized assistance for Jews. He fought in the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis, witnessed the complete destruction of his hometown.

      Early dialogue with Germany

      For the Catholic faithful the end of the Second World War was only the liberation from dictatorship – Members of civil resistance movement were in Stalinist Poland politically suspect. During the communist rule in Poland Bartoszewski spent about eight years in prison, experienced censorship, spying, surveillance.

      Just as he had been involved in World War II in the resistance movement, he became involved in 1945 in the Polish democracy movement. More than that – he was one of the pioneers of German-Polish reconciliation, sought early dialogue with Germany.

      “It pays off to be decent,” was the motto which as common thread ran through Bartoszewski books, essays and articles. The man who’s dignity of human was offended through two dictatorships sat in his political work and philosophy primarily on the idea of ​​humanity.

      It was until the political changes of 1989 which brought the change from dissidents to makers also to Bartoszewski. Twice he was foreign minister, in recent years, advisor to the government on the issue of German-Polish dialogue. Bartoszewski received numerous international awards, including the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic and the Peace Prize of the German Book market for his lifelong commitment. As “Righteous Among the Nations”, he was honored by Israel with the greatest honor that can award the country.”

      • Gryzelda Wrr

        True. People loved him. Thank you.

    • Murf

      Good to know. I was afraid she was going to be a Putin stooge.

      • Gryzelda Wrr

        I am not a great enthusiast of having Ewa Kopacz as PM right now. She lacks the charisma that we need at the moment, and she doesn’t have the talent for making good publicity. Still she is a smart woman, reliable politician and true supporter of Ukraine. No need to worry. There aren’t many people in Poland that could become Putin’s stooges. There are w few clowns who are trying to play the Putin card to gain some votes, but the example of Mrs Ogórek proves that this tactic does not pay off at all.

        • Murf

          Always glad to hear. Poland is the west Germany of the New Cold War. The first line of defense against the Russia hoards an Little Green Men.
          I know your people are up for the task. There are few in Europe I would rather depend on.

  • Michel Cloarec

    NATO has nothing to do with Svalbard ! The treaty is clear ! Russia has mining and settlements . But the treaty stipules No military ! Norway has the sovereignity over Svalbard, and therefore Norway has to defends the treaty so it will respected !
    But of course with russia “future of the past” problems will arise !

    • Tim Tomsen

      BS Svalbard is by int, law part of Norway because of its sovereignty over Svalbard and as Norway is a NATO nation any attack on Svalbard is an attack on Norway is also an attack on NATO ..

  • Dean Venture

    Ahhhahaha! You trolls are so cute. Is this the best you can do, ‘kill kill kill’? I don’t know why Putin pays you… this is crap. At least a few months ago there were a few trolls that tried to sound reasonable. I understand all of you have given up on reason, but I am surprised you are no longer trying to disguise this.

  • Tim Tomsen


    Claim: NATO leaders promised at the time of German reunification that the Alliance would not expand to the Easten Europe

    Fact: No such promise was ever made, and Russia has never produced any evidence to back up its claim.

    Every formal decision which NATO takes is adopted by consensus and recorded in writing. There is no written record of any such decision having been taken by the Alliance: therefore, no such promise can have been made.

    Moreover, at the time of the alleged promise, the Warsaw Pact still existed. Its members did not agree on its dissolution until 1991. Therefore, it is not plausible to suggest that the idea of their accession to NATO was on the agenda in 1989.

    This was confirmed by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev himself. This is what Mr Gorbachev said on 15 October 2014 in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta and Russia Beyond The Headlines:

    “The topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a single Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn’t bring it up, either.”

    Claim: NATO exercises are a provocation which threatens Russia

    Fact: Every nation has the right to conduct exercises, as long as they do so within their international obligations, including notifying the actual numbers and providing observation opportunities when required.

    In order to promote mutual trust and transparency, OSCE members are bound by the Vienna Document to inform one another in advance of exercises which include more than 9,000 troops, unless the exercises are snap tests of readiness.

    NATO and Allies have consistently stood by the terms and the spirit of the Vienna Document. Those exercises which crossed the notification threshold were announced well in advance. This is why Russia could send observers to the UK-led Exercise Joint Warrior in April 2015.

    Russia, on the other hand, has repeatedly called snap exercises including tens of thousands of troops, with some of them taking place close to NATO territory. This practice of calling massive exercises without warning is a breach of the spirit of the Vienna Document, raising tension and undermining trust. This is especially the case because Russia’s military takeover of Crimea was masked by exactly such a snap exercise.

    It is therefore Russia’s exercises, not NATO’s, which are a threat to stability.

    Claim: Russia has the right to oppose NATO-supported infrastructure on the territory of member states in Central and Eastern Europe

    Fact: The relationship between NATO and Russia is governed by the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, agreed by NATO Allies and Russia in 1997 and reaffirmed at NATO-Russia summits in Rome in 2002, and in Lisbon in 2010. (The Founding Act can be read here.)
    In the Founding Act, the two sides agreed that: “in the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces. Accordingly, it will have to rely on adequate infrastructure commensurate with the above tasks. In this context, reinforcement may take place, when necessary, in the event of defence against a threat of aggression and missions in support of peace consistent with the United Nations Charter and the OSCE governing principles, as well as for exercises consistent with the adapted CFE Treaty, the provisions of the Vienna Document 1994 and mutually agreed transparency measures. Russia will exercise similar restraint in its conventional force deployments in Europe.”

    Therefore, both infrastructure and reinforcements are explicitly permitted by the Founding Act and therefore by Russia.

    Claim: Russia has the right to demand a “100% guarantee” that Ukraine will not join NATO

    Fact: According to Article I of the Helsinki Final Act (here) which established the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1975, every country has the right “to belong or not to belong to international organizations, to be or not to be a party to bilateral or multilateral treaties including the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance.” All the OSCE member states, including Russia, have sworn to uphold those principles.

    In line with those principles, Ukraine has the right to choose for itself whether it joins any treaty of alliance, including NATO’s founding treaty.

    Moreover, when Russia signed the Founding Act, it pledged to uphold “respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security”.

    Thus Ukraine has the right to choose its own alliances, and Russia has, by its own repeated agreement, no right to dictate that choice.

    Claim: The cases of Kosovo and Crimea are identical

    Fact: The Kosovo operation was conducted following exhaustive discussion involving the whole international community dealing with a long-running crisis that was recognized by the UN Security Council as a threat to international peace and security.

    Following the operation, the international community engaged in nearly ten years of diplomacy, under UN authority, to find a political solution and to settle Kosovo’s final status, as prescribed by UNSCR 1244.

    In Crimea, there was no pre-existing crisis, no attempt to discuss the situation with the Ukrainian government, no involvement of the United Nations, and no attempt at a negotiated solution.

    In Kosovo, international attempts to find a solution took over 3,000 days. In Crimea, Russia annexed part of Ukraine’s territory in less than 30 days. It has sought to justify its illegal and illegitimate annexation, in part, by pointing to a “referendum” that was inconsistent with Ukrainian law, held under conditions of illegal armed occupation with no freedom of expression or media access for the opposition, and without any credible international monitoring.

    Claim: The Ukrainian authorities are illegitimate

    Fact: Ukraine’s President Poroshenko was elected on 25 May with a clear majority in a vote which the OSCE characterized (report here) as showing the “clear resolve of the authorities to hold what was a genuine election largely in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms.” The only areas where serious restrictions were reported were those controlled by separatists, who undertook “increasing attempts to derail the process.”

    The current parliament was elected on 26 October in a vote which the OSCE characterized (report here) as “an amply contested election that offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms”. It again pointed out that “Electoral authorities made resolute efforts to organize elections throughout the country, but they could not be held in parts of the regions (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk or on the Crimean peninsula”.

    Finally, Russian officials continue to allege that the Ukrainian parliament and government are dominated by “Nazis” and “fascists.” However, in the parliamentary elections, the parties whom Russia labelled as “fascists” fell far short of the threshold of 5% needed to enter parliament. Ukraine’s electorate clearly voted for unity and moderation, not separatism or extremism, and the composition of the parliament reflects that.

    In short, the President and parliament are legitimate, the actions of the separatists were not.

    Russian controlled soviet union former satellite states like Poland,
    Romania, and Czech the Baltic sates, Slovakia ect ect ect …couldn’t
    wait to join NATO and the EU to get as fare away from Russian hegemony
    control as fast as the possibly can at the time . If the Russians
    weren’t such malignant, belligerent a**holes, they wouldn’t have to
    worry about EU NATO and former satellite states like Poland, Romania,
    and Czech the Baltic sates, Slovakia ect ect ect running too the front
    door of EU and NATO . Her is a thought if every one thinks you are a
    bunch of malignant, belligerent a**holes and you think you are the the
    greatest thing since sliced bread and you are the only one that thinks
    that maybe you need a reality check and just maybe just maybe you are a
    bunch of malignant, belligerent a**holes and not the greatest thing
    since sliced bread’