Iron and gas curtains

(To Gino Lanzara)
05/10/21

History, the real one, not that of the case count, has started running again everywhere, following the fluorescent path of the power projections; the Kremlin redraws maps and borders and assigns limitations to sovereignty as in Ukraine; Ankara challenges Athens on the sea; the Middle East is simmering from Jerusalem to Kabul; Beijing pursues the policy of Divide and conquer thanks to financial investments and pseudo health interventions, despite the former sunburn caused by the Evergrande bubble; the US is experiencing its moment of decline as the ghosts of a new cold war fueled by the facts of Crimea reappear.

A lady of other times, detached from dynamic contexts, Europe flounders, pays duty to its political impersonality that prevents it from providing answers collegiate to anyone; between geopolitical yearnings and aspirations for power politics, there is no subject but complaints, pour la Vieille Dame, a renewed and prominent role that prevents its transformation into an inane political puppet.

In the age of the irrational cancel culture It should be remembered that Western Europe took more than 1000 years to place itself at the center of political attention, and that until the sixteenth century, in global affairs, it failed to be of significant importance. It is understandable that the changes resulting from the two-year period 89/91 did not favor, for central European actors, an automatic and rapid comparison with Western ones. It is a problem of masks, of fragmentation of the personality, of contingent behaviors, of knowing how to assume the shape of water from time to time.

Geopolitics is strategy, it is power politics enriched by territories and their actors amalgamated and cohesive within them by virtue of a coherent historical and social narrative and with, in the background, power relations characterized by the stigma of the encounter / clash of civilizations . Focus on Central Eastern Europe, where geopolitics plays with the consequences of the shifts determined by the domination of international relations.

With Russia, the EU, after the annexation of Crimea and the friction with Ukraine, has attempted bilateral approaches inspired by the senseless desirability and not by the real diplomatic possibilities, which highlighted a Moscow strategic deficiency, underlined by the recognition of an authoritarianism devoted to the limitation of Ukrainian maritime spaces; a general picture that underlined both the instability caused by military activities in Crimea and in support of Belarus, and the European need and opportunity to support and protect the territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine where, from a pro-Russian perspective, Kiev has attempted the way of a multivectoral policy1, guarantee of an impossible non-alignment made unlikely by the same Ukrainian geographical conformation that leads it to look out across the Black Sea to the Caucasus and MO; Moreover, Europe to the south-east cannot be understood as a terminal limes, but as an intermediate space between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. And Ukraine itself, which lacks a nuclear force of its own which it ironically renounced in exchange for guarantees on the possession of Crimea by the US, UK and Russia, and whose name not surprisingly means border area, it is one of the countries on which to focus and then extend the range of analysis; bound to the USA since 20142, during which the forces of Kiev left the Crimean camp without firing a shot, the Ukrainians form the basis of the anti-mural with Russia, a threat so looming against which to now deploy men at last combat ready, but dominated by the Indo-Pacific quarrel, a training ground for geopolitical realism.

The thin red line in Moscow is more than militarily consolidated in the north despite the Baltic states, which must necessarily trust in an American commitment equal to the one that, after 45, then guaranteed the permanence in NATO of Turkey and Greece even with the abandonment of Poland to its own destiny; there red line in the center it is the cause of contention with Ukraine and Belarus; on the Black Sea to the Bosphorus, and in areas where, lately, the Royal Navy has perilously ventured, it is a rope that vibrates due to the uncertainties due to the wavering Turkish politics. The Russian section extends on the eastern flank of the Alliance, and touches Poland, which has not hesitated recently to equip itself with Turkish Bayraktar drones, and Romania, where the Aegis Ashore missile bases are located, suitable for dual defensive / offensive use, the batteries THAAD missiles, and air bases too far from the coast to be subject to air and sea attacks.

With this in mind, among the Trimarium infrastructure projects3 there is the Rail2Sea ​​railway whose importance lies not so much in the commercial exchanges it should facilitate between Gdansk and Constanta, but in the possibility of rapidly transferring military equipment along the eastern flank of NATO. Given the Russian impossibility of making a mirror work, the caveat Muscovite about the possible NATO entry into Ukraine, ideal sword of Damocles missile. However, it is thanks to the Trimarium that the USA, on the Polish-Romanian axis, can monitor the ambitions of the hyperactive German ally, while from bases in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean they can exercise their thalassocracy on the Arctic and Black Sea, supporting the front manned by Norway. , Finland and the Baltic Republics, whose loss was never metabolized by the Kremlin.

The Russian strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean, based mainly on symbolic diplomacy, seeks advantages and not shared solutions, gives insights into energy policy, offers empty financial promises, blows the fire of a broader plan aimed at destabilizing the cohesion of NATO and the EU; the Kremlin's interests are aimed at strengthening European energy dependence, a consolidation that passes through Turkey4, Cyprus and Greece, the most vulnerable political entities.

There are two countries on which interests and strategies revolve: Poland and Ukraine; the first, from the NATO point of view, is delegated to the projection of power in the northern area to guarantee resistance in the event of a frontal attack and the connection with allied countries on the Black Sea; the second, with Belarus which has now returned to the Muscovite sphere, has entered into the midst of the dispute with Russia, strengthened by the control exercised over Transnistria and Donbas, and still traversed by a low-intensity conflict in the process of exacerbating5, and actress of the Minsk agreements of 2014, in which Russia is paradoxical patron of rebel Russian speakers and not an effective counterpart. In fact, the dissolution of the USSR has generated an even wider area of ​​conflict, which starts from the Balkans, touches the Sea of ​​Azov and reaches the Caucasian republics: thearc of crisis by Brzezinski.

To date, Poland is a point of reference for an Anglo-Saxon sphere of influence extending over the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Adriatic, aimed at containing j Germans, risky for the American maritime power combined with the domination of theheartland. From this perspective, Ukraine too, in Brzezinski's perspective, becomes a pivotal state for Moscow, grappling with both the new policy of the Biden administration and, obtorto neck, with the necessary and interested synergy with Xi's China; in Ukraine, moreover, the presidential victory of the American dem was welcomed with a sense of liberation, given the involvement of Kiev in the impeachment trial against Trump, for the activities carried out by Hunter Biden, son of the president6.

At the moment, if on the one hand the US is aiming at monitoring the fight against corruption, on the other hand President Zelensky7, which is also becoming the protagonist of ad hoc legislative initiatives and whose political instability is feared due to the transition from a marked populism to a realist stiffening typical of post-Sovietism, is attempting to contain the Russian pro-Russian on the internal stage, together with the request for a cooperation agreement concerning security and defense, including military assistance, with a hypothesis of Membership Action Plan for NATO, pure smoke and mirrors for the Kremlin which does not want to be surrounded on the western side.

In a sort of historical parallelism, one wonders if there is a new one long telegram capable of triggering a reaction from the US, on the one hand discovered in their political essence from the Afghan experience, capable of generating many doubts about their reliability, and on the other completely devoid of coherent political personalities, in a perspective that the Crimean controversy, destined to transform into a Russian strategic base, instead it should serve to make everyone, including China, understand the intolerability of forced unions.

It must be said that, in the face of the hoped-for Ukrainian entry into the Alliance, John J. Mearsheimer (photo) hypothesized the maintenance of Kiev's neutrality to make Ukraine the new Austria, in order to shape a new buffer state which, however, must then explain the sense of the ridiculous and embarrassing Western rethinking after having deliberately provoked a dramatic crisis of government.

In Ukraine, where Russian action in defense of the post-Soviet space has shattered the equilibrium established after 90, and where Moscow has recently amassed men and equipment for what have been defined as simple exercises but which have awakened Atlantic concerns for the fate of Kiev, Putin enjoys an undoubted geopolitical advantage, but he certainly cannot rely on lost Soviet strategic capabilities. In any case, the exercises were useful for testing American reactions, thus verifying the actual extent of possible support for Ukraine; although the US has reiterated its support for Ukraine in the event of a hypothetical invasion of the Donbas, American support is not a foregone conclusion.

From the Russian point of view, a possible friction with Kiev would be inconvenient according to a cost-effectiveness assessment, given that Moscow can derive greater profits thanks to an aggressive diplomacy based on a hybrid war.

Starting from 2014, the EU, with Poland supported by the US, has more decisively extended the integrative thrust to the east, undermining the spatial dimension linked to Russian security interests; the mistake consisted in having focused on an alleged weakness of Moscow, such as to make the Kremlin accept the loss of its buffer zone, in the same way as what happened with the retreat from Eastern Europe, instead of taking into account the real interests of the Kremlin, and working to offer fair compensation for the loss of influence. If Ukraine desires the withdrawal of Russian forces, the Kremlin calls for local elections and special regional status, in a context here destined for a convenient freezing of all kinds of initiatives, and elsewhere for a thorough realist reflection, as in Nagorno Karabakh, where Moscow allowed the defeat of the Armenian ally.

The difficult evolution of Russian-American relations can also be found in the reports concerning the North Stream 2, a gas pipeline for the transfer of energy resources to Germany, which has fragmented the European unity on the front of interstate relations, through the Baltic, bypassing Poland, which is also very skeptical of the costly green transition, and Ukraine, thus deprived of income and significant negotiating skills; in fact, as Ukraine moves towards the fourth decade of political independence, its energy sector does not provide adequate financial support in terms of income and economic development. Meanwhile, Warsaw intends to move towards other options that allow procurement from other sources.

It is useful to remember the design of the Baltic pipeline project whereas linking Norway to Poland via Denmark will make it possible to avoid the gallows of agreements with Gazprom; as the capacity of the BPP will exceed the national needs, it is clear that Poland is aiming to become a hub regional energy from which to draw other European partners, primarily Ukraine. What is most striking, specifically, is the geopolitical role assumed by gas, once a poor relative of fossil fuels.

2021 therefore becomes a crucial year due to the completion of the North Stream 2 which complicates the future of Ukrainian gas pipelines. After the US waiver of sanctions against the companies involved in the implementation of the North Stream 2, all the concerns about Ukraine have been revealed, a transit country that tries to make ends meet by appealing to a form of controlled economy without resorting to the market but to populist approaches, and which seeks impossible short-term solutions, impossible without a clear spending strategy. In any case, much has changed internationally since 2009, and Europe is now much more ready to deal with interruptions in gas supplies; among other things, it should also be remembered how the global availability of LNG has changed in consideration of American, Australian and Mozambican exports which, however, cannot yet undermine the Russian leadership.

Taking into account the abundance of the product and the competitiveness of prices, a reduction in Russian negotiating power is manifesting itself, so that no European country is forced to depend exclusively on Moscow for its gas supplies, although Russia has not given up on exercising its energy geopolitical influence with the North Stream.

Brief but essential consideration; beyond geopolitical assessments, the security of energy supplies lies in the diversification of sources and transport; with North Stream, Russia and Germany, which has decided to decommission nuclear and coal plants, will depend on a single infrastructure, potential object of hacker attacks, as happened to the American Colonial Pipeline8.

The conclusion of the political affair of North Stream with the German-American compromise by the Biden administration, however, it created Ukrainian-Polish discontent; if Germany, in which the US unwisely trusts to contain China, has managed to obtain not turning off the taps even if Moscow blackmails Kiev with energy, it is also true that it has undertaken to finance the infrastructure of the Trimarium, compensating Ukraine for the lack of revenue from gas transit rights: it is a pity that it has not been established how and to what extent, especially now that the Americans have warned not to interfere with lobbying MPs against North Stream 2.

In short, if a mass is worthwhile for Washington Berlin, it is still necessary to understand what Kiev is worth, in addition to general reassurances and military aid.

The situation of Poland, a country of real socialism, and Ukraine, can be understood from their historical and geographical evaluation; Ukraine was born as a Soviet Republic and while constituting the Slavic heart of the USSR together with Russia and Belarus, it has never been immune from a strong nationalism similar to the Baltic one, which has cyclically revived Stepan Bandera, founding father of the army Ukrainian insurrectionist in 1942 and a politically very controversial figure given his collaborationism.

Moreover, that of Ukraine and Poland is a story united by the blood of tragic events and reprisals such as in Volyn and Galicia, to which we must add, one for all, the decimation of Polish officers in Katyn at the hands of the Big Brother Russian who with Austrians and Prussians, over time, contributed to influence events.

Even Poland, ready to deploy armored vehicles on the eastern border, is a barrier with the Russian east, supported by a decisive and oriented policy according to the indications provided by belonging to the Visegrad Group, to the Trimarium, necessary to separate Russia from the Germany and which cultivates relations with Kiev, and the relationship with the USA, certainly more satisfactory than Weimar Triangle of 1991, with Germany and France physiologically unaccustomed to sharing advantages and benefits, in the face of the Russian commitment to consolidate organizations and networks devoted to hybrid war. There is therefore no doubt that the Polish-Ukrainian bilateral relations reflect particular complexities and desires for a closer and realistically convenient partnership inspired by the mutual perception of relevant strategic capabilities, but which require the overcoming, operated by the collective consciousness, of previous historical events. Pragmatically, Warsaw and Kiev must cultivate common interests that go beyond sentimentality.

The preservation of buffer states is of strict Polish interest; for Ukraine, Poland is the best possible way to have a western shore by emancipating itself from the Russian yoke. If Warsaw is aware that putting the eastern border back into play would reopen symmetrical disputes about the Polish-German Oder-Neisse line, Kiev is aware that in order to survive it must cultivate international recognition of its borders, which is why the stabilization of the Polish border remains of capital importance, as it remains fundamental to maintain the geopolitical status quo following the Soviet dissolution, taking into account the fact that Polish foreign policy is based on a complex of autonomous bilateral relations. Washington, which has identified Warsaw as the catalyst for eastern infrastructure reforms, is convinced that, despite the hesitation, an independent Ukraine can be the best guarantee against the Russian imperial return.

The European map, if analyzed in a North-South direction, leads to connect the Baltic of Gdansk with the Black Sea of ​​Odessa, with a series of routes extending to and from Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Kiev. The main element that coagulates Polish Ukrainian interests is the energy market, where Warsaw and Kiev are trying to oppose North Stream 2 aware, at least they, of the fact that this is a project aimed at increasing the Russian energy influence in Europe. At the moment, the only faint chances that remain for the two countries are aimed at preventing the ability to use the pipeline at full capacity, also in consideration of the decisive German support for the operation. Regional policy, in importance, extends to the Baltic, and Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine formed the Lublin Triangle with the intent to expand cooperation and, above all, to prevent hybrid threats and support Ukraine in its NATO and EU membership aspirations.

We close the plot, starting from the consideration that political choices are acceptable only if they are the basis of a rationally sustainable narrative that summarizes events in a more extended time frame. Ideological values ​​better leave them on the bench. Eastern Europe, while recognized as important, is at the center of the power politics of the hegemons in office; the problems arise when this policy shows its dysphoric characteristics, penalizing one to favor the other, only to reward the former in the alternative, however, in the meantime leaving them guarding the walls of the umpteenth Bastiani fortress.

The USA, especially in their dem version, wants everything: a sincere German alliance, quiet relations with the Kremlin, controlled competition with the Dragon, socio-economic perfection, perhaps even ecumenical peace in the world; young and rampant hegemon but without extensive roots, America continues to ignore the history of others, the thrusts that come from deep inside, the reasons for imperialism that have animated history for centuries, and tries to get by according to an understandable but little elegant realist circle of international style that, between North Stream and Crimea, evoked the ghosts of a Appeasement which Poland still remembers painfully well.

In a growing lack of security, while western political actors follow strategies in the pursuit of the single national advantage, the states of the east, tried by a very hard and cutting history, compensate for the lack of unitary guidelines with associations such as that of the Trimarium.

While America wanders, and Europe politically splits up, the East is wondering about a future that is very difficult to interpret.

1 Backed by then-president Victor Yanukovych

2 In 2014, the conflict arose following the pro-Western Euromaidan revolution, which led to the resignation and flight of pro-Russian president Viktor Janukovyč

3 Baltic republics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria

4 Russia has managed to rationalize its differences with Turkey enough to develop one j, albeit shaky, in Syria and in the southern Caucasus, and in the name of competition in Libya and Ukraine. The Turkish purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system resulted in a crisis within NATO, and the Turkish expulsion from the F-35 and Patriot programs.

5 To remember the separatist forces of the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk

6 Trump was accused of blackmailing Kiev over military aid to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden - then aspiring presidential candidate - and his son Hunter, a board member of Ukrainian oil company Burisma.

7 Zelenskyi plays the role of Ukrainian president in the television series in 2015 Sluha Narodu (literally, Servant of the people) embodying an honest and capable head of state. In March 2018 a political party of the same name was born created by the staff of Kvartal 95, producer of the series.

8 To remember the 4 gas pipelines in the southern Mediterranean, two (Green Stream e Trans-Med) that reach Italy and two (Medgaz e Maghreb-Europe) that reach Spain. Planned: two in the Baltic quadrant: theNSI West Gas (Western Europe), theNSI East Gas (between Baltic, Adriatic, Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea), the Southern Gas Corridor (intended to connect Caspian, Central Asia, Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean to the EU) and the BEMIP Gas (to connect the three Baltic states and Finland). The TurkStream that connects Russia and Turkey should also be added

Photo: US Army / Kremlin / John J. Mearsheimer / The Presidential Office of Ukraine