Toward a New Euro-Atlantic "Hard" Security Agenda
July 31, 2008
As new leaders are taking over in Moscow, Washington, and many EU capitals, they inherit a host of security problems in the Euro-Atlantic area that have accumulated and crystallized since the latest failed attempt, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to form a new strategic partnership between the Cold War adversaries. These problems are not trivial and can get more complicated, even leading to political conflicts. In order to avoid drifting toward confrontation not warranted by the core interests of the parties concerned, Russians, Americans, and Europeans need to address the wider context of their relations, prioritize the key issues, and start looking for practical solutions.
Russia’s relations with the United States and the European Union are multilayered and complex. At the public and political level, there is deep mistrust between Russia, on the one hand, and the United States and many of its allies, on the other. Some even talk of a new Cold War. Just beneath the surface, however, there is a cool but mostly solid political relationship between Russia and its key Western partners. And underneath that, there are booming economic interactions, complete with cross-border investments, and numerous people-to-people exchanges. The Cold War analogy is most probably wrong, but some of the elements of 1914 are uncomfortably present in the current relationship.
The “hard” security issues, which are the subject of this report, are embedded within the political layer, but are widely discussed at the “chattering” level and virtually ignored down below. Immediately after the end of the East-West confrontation, they were almost consigned to history books, along with the very notion of “European security,” only to be rediscovered several years later. Actually, there are two classes of security issues. One represents problems between Russia and its nominal partners in North America and Europe, and the other, common challenges to both the West and Russia. Thus, the Euro-Atlantic security agenda can only be complex and, in some parts, controversial.
This study is part of a series being published by the joint CSIS/IFRI project “Europe, Russia, and the United States: Finding a New Balance,” which seeks to reframe the trilateral relationship for the relevant policymaking communities.