chapter  5
19 Pages

The Russian Army as a crumbling keystone in the European security architecture: Pavel K. Baev


Russia’s engagement with the key Western security institutions was significantly enhanced by the outcome of the NATO Lisbon summit in November 2010, which elevated the task of cultivating this partnership to one of the top priorities for the Alliance. Yet this engagement remained unsteady, and many Russian commentators argued that the issue of the inadequacy of the European security system for the scope and character of new challenges was not addressed (Lukyanov 2010a). President Dmitrii Medvedev kept raising this issue at every meeting with his European counterparts with a persistency that became habitual, without becoming entirely rational. At the December 2010 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Astana, he lamented that the idea of a new legally binding pact, which he had brainstormed at the very start of his presidency, was ‘a long way ahead of its time’ (Medvedev 2010). Yet the serious difficulties this summit faced in accomplishing the relatively simple task of reconfirming the Helsinki principles demonstrated that the divergence of views on the ways and means of strengthening security in wider Europe cannot be overcome by diplomatic manoeuvring (Gabuev 2010). There are many sound analyses of Russia’s agendas behind Medvedev’s dubious initiative, and this chapter will not add to this literature (Lo 2009; Voronkov 2010). What is relevant here is (1) the military content of current Russian security thinking about Europe; and (2) the impact of the ongoing deep transformation of the Russian military machine on European security. For that matter, it was remarkable that the grand proposition on modernizing the European security ‘architecture’ was reduced in Medvedev’s draft to a very narrow goal of preventing the use of military force in inter-state relations, which recycled the idealist motivation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928).2 Moscow even argued that the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008 proved the need for such an arrangement, despite the obvious problem with its own disproportionate use of military force and undeniable responsibility for the war.3 Some of the crucial elements of the collective security system, such as the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty (1990/1999), were dismantled by Russia’s unilateral actions, while some new challenges, such as cyber attacks and cuts in energy flows, became urgent matters due to incidents in which Russia was a prime suspect.