Talk to the capable, comfort the weak: Russian conduct after NATO's Warsaw Summit

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Talk to the capable, comfort the weak: Russian conduct after NATO's Warsaw Summit

Dr Andrey Sushentsov
Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Once every two years, the NATO Summit takes inventory of all issues facing the alliance. The Warsaw Summit was not marked with new views and approaches.

The existing hierarchy of threats for alliance members set forward at the Wales Summit two years ago was confirmed: Russia’s policy, international terrorism and instability in the Middle East. None of these threats are vital; they do not threaten the bloc’s existence and do not force NATO member countries to use every measure to confront them. Because of that, NATO uses many half-measures, unfulfilled intentions and ambiguities. It lacks the most important thing: the readiness to soberly assess the new, completely uncertain international situation and hypothesize where the current trajectory will lead by 2030.

For NATO, Russia is a comfortable chief threat, the fight against which has successful precedents. NATO officials believe that since containment worked during the Cold War, it will work again now. Speculation about a “hybrid threat” are popular in the West because they fit into the narrative of containment, which has to be slightly adapted to Russian “hybridity” for everything to be as before. This conservative path not only leads to a dead end because it does not reflect the actual situation and Russia’s aims, but also contradicts the need for Russian-European cooperation on key security issues, which Europe feels more acutely every day. Every new terrorist attack, every new truckload of Middle Eastern refugees strengthen the perception of core European NATO members that the hierarchy of threats must be different.

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