& nbsp & nbspΞένια Τουργκη & nbsp; & nbsp;
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed in a short period of time the broader defense, geopolitical and economic data in Europe and the world. Decades of foreign policy, defense and security have been shattered, “red lines” have been drawn and a new era of uncertainty has dawned. No one can predict when and with whom the crisis will end, said in an interview with “Liberal” Ian Lesser, vice president and head of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, stressing that a new scenario of instability is emerging through the Ukrainian crisis.
The situation as he mentioned is dangerous. Comparing what humanity experienced during the Cold War, he explained that although it was a turbulent period, there were safety valves that a crisis could hardly occur that would upset the then balances. Today, all certainty has been lost and Russia's rivalry with the West and especially with the United States and this entails new dangers and risks. & Nbsp;
The war in Ukraine, Dr. Lesser explained, was accelerating trends that already existed. The greedy Russia that is falling in power and showing offensive behavior, the China that is clearly seeking to win the lead from the US, the struggle to compete with many countries that want to expand their influence. If anything, this is about the European Union, which has become an impressive player in the international political arena./b>
In such an international environment that is literally “boiling”, Turkey seeks to maintain difficult balances, which test both NATO, of which it is one of the most important members, and its neighboring countries. The American expert stressed the special geostrategic position of Turkey from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Black Sea and the Caucasus, the close contacts with Russia and Ukraine and therefore its importance for security in the wider region, emphasizing that at the same time it is advantage but also disadvantage for the North Atlantic Alliance. However, Ankara will seek, as usual, to step on two boats, that is, to strengthen its position in NATO and maintain good relations with Russia, something that will become more and more difficult as long as the crisis lasts./p>
– The war in Ukraine has been going on for four months. How do you see it ending and, most importantly, when?
-I'm not sure if anyone has the answer to this question. There are many different scenarios. What does not seem to be the case is that it is a brief war, and as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stollenberg said the other day, we may have to prepare for a conflict that may last for years. The situation may stabilize but it is possible to see the hostilities continue for a long time, without achieving a ceasefire. I am afraid that the Ukrainian crisis will concern us for a long time to come. & Nbsp;
– What can be considered a victory for Russia and what for Ukraine? Are the aspirations of each side possible?
– Well, this is something that is up to the Russian and Ukrainian sides to clarify and say what they seek. There is a good chance that the territories that Russia is gaining in the Donbas and in the south will want to keep them, as it did with Crimea, and that would be a victory. On the other hand, Ukraine wants to regain its territorial integrity at the border before 2014, which would be acceptable within the country. & nbsp;
– Is a new order of things really being created, as is often said and written? Which factors do you think will play the biggest role in the post-war process?
– I am not convinced that the war in Ukraine is indeed revising the world order, I believe that this term is misused. We do not see anything different than in the past, but perhaps the war accelerated trends that existed in the past. The greedy Russia that is falling in power and showing offensive behavior, the China that is clearly seeking to win the lead from the US, the struggle to compete with many countries that want to expand their influence. If anything has changed this is the European Union, which has become an impressive player in the international political arena. He has taken the lead in the crisis, is trying to manage the various aspects of the energy crisis, and he is a strong supporter of Ukraine. This is an impressive change and a surprise. Clearly, it still needs and depends on NATO, which is essential for European security and defense. We have seen that there is a greater willingness for defense and military spending across Europe. This is not a revolution, of course, and close cooperation with the United States will continue, but the change is spectacular. & Nbsp;
– The EU has shown an unprecedented unity in relation to the Ukrainian crisis. Will it stay united until the end?
-It is clear that the EU surprised many with the actions it took and the unity it showed. If the war in Ukraine lasts, it is difficult to say what will happen. I believe that with everything we have seen so far, he will seek to continue the same. Last week, the Commission gave the green light for Ukraine to join the EU and this is a long-term commitment, while promising to be present in the reconstruction of the country.
– Relations between Russia and the West have reached the nadir. Is it a kind of new Cold War? How will relations between the two sides develop, especially with regard to the US and Russia in the future?
– We see that a very fierce confrontation is taking place with Russia. And unless there are some changes inside the country we will continue to be in a period of tension. Russia has the same ambitions and means as the Soviet Union, but it is a much more unpredictable player, while keeping in mind that time is not on its side. We are therefore living in a dangerous period, one of the most dangerous times since 1945, I would say. In fact, the confrontation of the Cold War with the then Soviet Union in many ways was a stable and predictable situation. Maybe not acceptable, but at least stable and predictable. The current situation with Russia is not the same and possibly for this the risks involved are greater. An accident, a crisis, anything that can trigger uncontrollable results. & Nbsp;
– Do you really think the situation could get out of control?
– I do not say that it is possible to happen, but I do not rule it out. The chance is there. And the irony is that at least during the Cold War there was a much greater understanding between the Soviet Union and the West. Arrangements have been made that have greatly reduced the likelihood that something will accidentally get out of hand, such as arms control agreements. Today we live in a more unpredictable and clearly more dangerous time. So I'm not saying there will be an escalation, but I do not rule it out. & Nbsp;
Russia will become increasingly insecure
-How will What does Russia look like in the future if it eventually develops into a rogue state like North Korea?
– Personally, I do not see that Russia could be transformed into North Korea in the future. However, in the long run, if her aggression continues and the sanctions against her last for a long time, significant negative consequences will be recorded. We will have an increasingly poor and insecure Russia and it will not be a strong player in what we call a globalized system and it will also have an impact on world trade. & Nbsp;
– The situation in the Eastern Mediterranean was already complicated. Will there be consequences for the region from the war in Ukraine?
– I do not believe that there will be at least immediate consequences. But if there is one thing we need to consider, it is the issue of food insecurity. As the Ukrainian crisis directly affects food prices, immediate risks are posed to the countries of the Middle East as well as Africa. The stability of many countries may be tested and this may affect the Eastern Mediterranean, especially given that many countries in the region have not recovered from the effects of the pandemic and are facing an economic crisis.
< b> Escalation in the Aegean is not ruled out
Recently we see a lot of tension between Greece and Turkey? How likely is it that we will see a hot episode or even a war between two NATO member countries?
– There is a lot of tension between the two countries. The internal situation in Turkey as well as the growing nationalism, I believe, fuel this tension. The Alliance was, of course, aware, but it maintained a neutral stance. From the 1990s until a few years ago there was a basic understanding between Ankara and Athens, but now the situation has changed and there can be no talk of stability. The situation became much more volatile. At the same time, Greece came closer to NATO in terms of security. However, there are energy issues that seem to separate them lately. The scenario is similar to the Aegean as it is to Russia and its relations with the West. From the moment instability prevails, anything can happen a military action, a hot episode of miscalculations and that is worrying. Of course, no one wants to see a conflict between the two countries, but their proximity as well as the fact that tensions are rising can not be ruled out escalation.
And Turkey a nuisance and an advantage for NATO
-Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO, but Turkey is blocking. What is Ankara trying to gain? Can these issues be resolved before the North Atlantic Alliance summit in late June?
– It is very difficult for me to believe that the issue will be resolved before the Madrid summit. The participating Member States will have direct talks with the US President to pave the way for a solution, but we can not predict the outcome. Turkey puts high on its agenda the issue of Sweden's support for Kurdish organizations, which is nothing new. It should also be borne in mind that Turkey will hold presidential elections in 2023, and I believe that this plays a role, as no one in the country wants to appear to take into account the national interest, much less the current president. Therefore, it is important to see what the other side has to offer, namely the Nordic countries. However, there is room for compromise.
-So you do not agree with those who claim that Ankara's dispute with the two Nordic countries is in fact a bargain with Washington?
-In my opinion this is not the case. The Turks have a lot of issues open with the United States, that's for sure. I think they are very much concerned about the behavior of Sweden and Finland on an issue, such as Kurdish, which is of direct concern to them. ;
– In both cases the answer is yes. This is exactly the dilemma because Turkey is both. It is an advantage because of its large army, it has military superiority, it has an advantage due to its geographical location, it is an important country in an important region. At the same time, it has the same political prospects and security interests that are incompatible with those of its allies. Turkey's relationship with NATO has never been easy to manage, especially in these difficult times. & Nbsp;
-If Finland and Sweden finally join the Alliance, how will Russia react?
-I would say that Russia has already reacted by saying that it is against this prospect. I am sure that the Russians wish & nbsp; Turkey to facilitate them and to continue to put obstacles in the way of the accession of the two countries. I do not think they already have the answer to what they will do. However, I do not believe that Russia will attack these two countries if they eventually become members of NATO.
-Where is Turkey in the new Cold War?
-Turkey has important economic and political relations with Russia, it depends to a large extent on Russian energy and at the same time Moscow is important trading partner. That is why he was left out and does not participate in the sanctions imposed on Russia. On the other hand, there is a strategic confrontation. There is a long history of rivalry between the two countries, lasting for centuries, and Turkey is deeply concerned about Russian aggression in the Black Sea. In other conflicts, the two countries, such as Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, are in rival camps. Turkey will seek to maintain a difficult balance, to be a member of NATO and at the same time to maintain good relations with Russia. Of course, the longer the Ukrainian crisis lasts, the harder it will be to stay in that position. And let us not forget that Ankara's relations with Ukraine are also very good.