The West’s Strategy to Contain Russia and the Disagreements between the U.S. and Europe

Syrian Civil War, Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and now Ukraine. The West aims to squeeze Russia from all sides in the international arena. The same West tries to neutralize Russia from a regional perspective by reducing its influence in the former Soviet countries. However, while implementing these plans, Western countries, especially the United States of America (USA), encounter unexpected events. Russia’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War and its settlement in the Port of Lattakia through an agreement with Syria brought Russia to the warm waters than ever before.

The perception that Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power in Armenia, was supported by France and that a colorful revolution took place was demolished with the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. The defeat of Pashinyan, who was unconditionally supported by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, in Nagorno-Karabakh was seen as the price Armenia paid for leaving Russia. The reason why France and the U.S. supported Pashinyan was the desire to end Russian presence in the South Caucasus. They also tried to prevent Russia from getting closer to the Middle East through the South Caucasus. Faced with the threat of losing Armenia after Georgia, Russia punished Armenia by remaining unresponsive in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. In this process, it seems that the uprising of the people against Pashinyan led to the revival of the Russian alternative.

Of course, the region should not only be seen as territorial borders. The U.S. considered that the joining of Bulgaria and Romania to NATO has defeated Russia in the Balkans and it is trying to increase its presence in the Black Sea by establishing bases in both countries. In such a situation, Russia considers the Montreux Convention as an element that enhances and strengthens its security in the Black Sea. Until the 2000s, Russia, who made various pressures to revise the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, gave up these claims after the NATO membership of Romania and Bulgaria. 21-day stay in the Black Sea and a certain tonnage restriction imposed by the Montreux Convention for the warships of countries that are not riparian to the Black Sea saved Russia from the balance change it did not want. The efforts of the U.S. to increase its presence in the Black Sea within the framework of NATO could be prevented due to the Montreux Convention. Despite this, American bases in Bulgaria and Romania have the potential to change this situation. Although both countries are afraid of Russia, they are in a position to act with the request of the U.S. Considering that they have secured themselves with NATO, Bulgaria and Romania have also reduced their defense costs in this regard. This is the clearest evidence that they are unprepared for a possible military tension.

Recently, US President Joe Biden’s statements like “America has returned to the international arena” and using aggressive comments against Russia are criticized even by some circles in the U.S. The President of the United States, declaring support for Ukraine against Russia regarding the tension in the Donbass region in the East of Ukraine, did not give any details about how they can support Ukraine in a possible hot conflict. This makes a similar account with the situation previously experienced in Georgia. Unlike that, this time Biden seeks to create an event that will generate “the New Cold War”-like antagonism between the U.S. and Russia. The belief that the U.S. was able to impose its demands on the countries of the region more easily during the Cold War period was effective in this. Countries like Turkey and Germany, assessing the requests of the United States accordingly to their own interests, prevent the United States to act freely on Russia. As a matter of fact, at the Munich Security Conference held virtually, Biden’s words that the U.S. would be involved in Europe and would be closely interested were not welcomed by France and Germany. It is clear that the continental Europe prefers to have open channels of cooperation and dialogue with Moscow while the U.S. wants to take more serious actions regarding Russia.

The reason why the U.S. has made such harsh statements about Russia lately is because that the events in Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean have not developed as the U.S. wanted. The Washington administration, wanting to turn the situation here to its favor, is trying to focus its attention on the issues related to the South China Sea and China as soon as possible. Again, in such an environment, making warmer and supporting statements on Turkey by the United States can be seen as an effort to regain the allies against Russia.

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Doç. Dr. Nuri KORKMAZ
Doç. Dr. Nuri KORKMAZ
ANKASAM Avrupa Birliği ve Balkanlar Danışmanı

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