“Europe’s Soft Underbelly”–Ukraine Crisis in Geopolitical Perspective

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 2/3/2015

Having begun eastward expansion, EU and NATO received a blowto its “southern underbelly.”

By Yurasumy

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Who are NATO and EU, our partners or adversaries? THIRTY
years ago one could instantly reply—adversaries. The most dangerous ones at
that. However, hybrid wars introduced many new factors into the art of war.
Therefore today the answer to that questions is not as self-evident.

To be sure, there has been no formal change. EU and NATO
remain adversaries of USSR/Russia as before. But the hybridization of combat
operations allows us to use the power of these organizations against
themselves.

“One for all and all for one” is the founding principle of
these (essentially) anti-Russian organizations and their decisionmaking
processes. As long as the positions of all their members coincided, it created
a synergistic effect. But as soon as there appeared a crack in the internal
relationships, these seemingly indestructible organizations suddenly became
helpless.

One has to keep in mind that the split within EU and split
within NATO are tasks of different magnitude. EU unity is far easier to destroy
because both the US and Russia are interested in it (I don’t even know which
one is more interested). An economically unified Europe is a challenge primarily
to the US dominance of world markets. It is a challenge to Russia because EU
had decided to swallow the traditional Russian sphere of influence. Russia is
not thinking about attaining economic superiority over Europe and will not
think of it for decades.

The clash of US and EU economic interests have Russia a
chance to get off its knees and start its own big economic game (BRICS, Customs
Union, Eurasian Union). All of that, combined with the economic growth of China
and its transformation into an economic superpower means that the policy of economic
and political strangulation of the Russian statehood that was so effectively
conducted in the 1990s was derailed.

Russia took full advantage of this derailing. The policy of
high price of oil, directed mainly at Europe and China, created the capital
needed to reboot the Russian economy, whose energetic component has been
decreasing from year to year. Russia even started to become involved in the
economic conflicts within the Old World, always supporting the anti-US forces.
Ultimately this meant an economic linkage between Europe and Russia which made
it possible to think about a BIG EURASIAN UNION (Europe, Russia, China), aimed
at the former hegemon—the US.

That’s when the time came for “colored revolutions” and
coups. All of them are aimed at destroying Europe’s economic bridges. The main
US blow was aimed at Russia, since it was the main bridge of that project. Not
Ukraine. Ukraine is simply one of the “trails” (though an important one).
Ambitious energy projects as well as the reestablishment and significant
expansion of the Sevmorput [the Arctic sea route linking Atlantic and Pacific]
would mean the end of US influence over the global economy. The control over
trade routes is the foundation of their power. Having lost them, the US will
lose the ability to strangulate their competitors in spite of their
all-powerful fleet.

NATO is more complicated (for Russia). From the outset that
military bloc was formed against Russia and to destroy Russia. It was not
effective in any other role, in spite of US attempts to adapt it into a tool of
extending its influence on a global scale in the ‘90s and ‘00s. Even though the
Russian army is not comparable to the Soviet army in terms of its power, it
nevertheless poses a significant threat to Europe. Therefore Europe cannot
simply ignore it, especially during the last decade. This means that convincing
NATO countries that Russia is militarily “benign” is much more complicated,
perhaps even impossible.

But even here there is a way out.

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But let’s return to Europe for the time being. EU was
inconvenient mainly to the US. The ‘90s and the ‘00s were a time during which
the US was trying to destroy the power of that formation. They did everything
to neutralize the economic power of Europe. They even attached the “fifth wheel”
(the UK). Creating economic problems for Europe became a national sport. But
they ignored one factor. Destroying the attractiveness of the big European home
for former Soviet republics (even former members of the Warsaw Pact), they
opened the door to the return of Russian influence. Russia did not miss the
opportunity. Russia’s expansion into former 
EU “partners” and the EU itself, was the most painful to the US and
Europe. Here I am speaking of Turkey and Greece.

Turkey

Moses led the Jews through the desert for 40 years. Europe
has been doing that to Turkey for even longer. Patience has its limits, and
that limit has been reached. The Syria crisis was an additional reasons for
shifting Turkey from the anti-Russian camp into the anti-American one. Having
offered Turkey a big plate of “cookies”, the US started a war in the region and
forced Turkey to deal with the consequences, thus undermining the stable
existence of the Turkish state. An independent and powerful Kurdistan began to
take shape.

Then, Turkey’s leader Erdogan “unexpectedly” embraced
Russia. But why unexpectedly? It was a logical move. Russia simply took
advantage of the situation and extended a helping hand to Turkey. And this hand
was not refused. Countries which were enemies for centuries and fought against
one another more often than any others in history suddenly started talking
about a unified economic zone. NATO’s main offensive fist in the south (600-800
thousand troops, by various estimates) had practically ceased to exist. What is
more, Turkey is a gateway into the Black Sea, which means that an alliance with
Turkey greatly strengthens Russia’s position in the Ukrainian crisis by untying
its military and “gas” hands. For Turkey Russia means a reliable strategic rear
which means that it can deploy its forces to deal with its main foes, namely
Kurdistan and ISIS.

Greece

The next big blow to NATO and EU were the January elections
in Greece. The economic “rape” of Greece by Europe (mainly by Germany) has been
going on for years. The country was put on its knees and forced to fulfill all
manner of requests: destroy the remnants of the Greek industry, sell off its
infrastructure and natural resources. Greece had become a European COLONY. It
is an odd label to apply to a member of the EU, but a correct one.

The country suffered one political crisis after another, but
the European puppet-masters were able to get what they wanted by shuffling the political
deck. Nearly all analysis were predicting that something similar would happen
in January 2015, when after yet another unscheduled elections the left radical
Syriza won. Many (though I was not one of them) expected that the newly formed
government will bow down before Brussels. It didn’t work out like that (and I’m
glad for it). But what happened? And why?

I am far from thinking that the current government is
mentally distinct from the previous ones. We should not think in terms of
good/bad in this case. The country’s policies can only be changed by new
INTERESTS and PROSPECTS. Few paid attention to the visits of several Greek
politicians (who are now ministers) to Moscow in January 2015 (before the
elections). They conducted consultations which were concluded to mutual
satisfaction. No, Greece so far has not “fallen in love” with Russia and cannot
be considered a reliable ally (we are still far from that), but Russia, having
rendered assistance (it is already opening up its agricultural market to
Greece) and having outlined the future prospects (which differ from the pro-EU
povertymongering), that is to say, the prospect of becoming the main gas
transit country into the EU (jointly with Turkey), now has another asset to
count on in its European and Balkans policies.

One should not forget that Greece, alongside with Turkey,
has one of the most powerful armies in NATO. It means that once Greece is taken
out of the game, NATO loses another 150 thousand soldiers and 1700 tanks.

I think that the alliance with Greece was already being
implied during the autumn negotiations with Turkey. Both countries are “sworn”
allies within NATO. The US was artificially fostering their conflict in order
to keep both in their sphere fo influence. If Russia is able to resolve this conflict
and make Turkey and Greece reliable partners, this will be a big political
victory of the idea of Big Eurasia in general and of Russia in particular,
since it is part of that formation.

The “Greece” level has many uses. It is a full member in the
EU which means NOT A SINGLE DECISION can be taken without its participation concerning
sanctions and other anti-Russian initiatives. US and Brussels will now launch a
massive effort to break the Russia-Greece connection. Nothing has been decided
yet. But Greece’s first steps have shown that it will be difficult, and
expensive, for the EU to bring Greece back into the fold. Assuming it is even
still possible.

Conclusions. Having started their eastward expansion, EU and
NATO received a blow to its southern underbelly (though one has to admit this
is not so much Russia’s accomplishments as a stumble by the US which the
Kremlin simply took advantage of). Therefore, having gotten involved in the
US-Russia geopolitical clash, both organizations received a blow that may turn
out to be fatal for both of them.

Translator’s Note: There is little doubt we are seeing what
is liable to be the terminal crisis of the post-Cold War globalization project
which, in spite of its seemingly benign “end of history”, “new world order”
packaging, has more to do not so much with Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”
as Wallerstein’s “world system theory.” It comes down to Lenin’s final dictum “who
whom.” Which countries will be the dominant “core” and which will be relegated
to the role of the “periphery” whose only task is to provide raw materials and
a cheap, docile labor force. One of the ironies is that the countries joining
the EU thought they were getting a ticket of admission into the “core.” Little
did they know that what they were signing up for is a process of their “peripherification,”
with Greece being one of the first to understand what purpose of the EU
actually is. There is a growing understanding of the problem in the Eastern Europe,
but they still have some way to go before they catch up with Greece. What is
making this process even more vicious is that it’s not just a case of “West
against the Rest”, as it has been for centuries, because just as Germany is
trying to economically subjugate the rest of Europe, US is trying to do the
same to Germany, which is the reason for the relatively strong anti-US and
pro-Russian sentiment in that country. This is a genuine crisis of capitalism
and imperialism as predicted, possibly somewhat prematurely, by Karl Marx.

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