Risto Volanen in English

The High North Water Glass Cold War.


For me Julian Lindley-French is one of the broad minded, history conscious and new ways seeking commentators in today’s geopolitical net space. Therefore it has been a pleasure to follow and to agree or to disagree.


Now he has been in Moscow with conclusions: “The day has been dominated by what for most Europeans and North Americans are yesterday’s issues; NATO enlargement, the defunct Conventional Forces Europe treaty and that old favourite ballistic missile defence.”


Poor Russians do not understand their own interest and are completely out of track. And even worse: “The irony for me about today’s debate is that Russia’s inner Europe-Europe border with EU and NATO members is Moscow’s one stable border shared as it is with its main trading and economic partners. In other words to this friend of Russia Moscow’s stated intent of a stable Europe and the concerns it expresses simply do not add up.”


As much as this is true and a consensus in most of Europe and the traditional West it is also false in Northern Europe, next to Russia’s main assets St. Petersburg and Murmansk. It is in nobody’s interests, but in the shadow of the major global concerns of the major powers, a kind of frozen history of the 17the and 18 century has been relaunched in the Nordic-Baltic region or in the European High West.


The post Cold War Clinton-Jeltsin settlement of 1997 first seemed to work as decently as the post WW II settlement. And from the local perspective the first decade of this century seemed to be the best ever.


But then came the ballistic missile defence and Münich of 2007 followed by Tallin and Georgia. Followed president Obama’s redrafting of missile defense, reset and reassurance and then combined budget cuts and Asian pivot – all of them having their unnoticed side effects in the Nordic-Baltic region, like strengthening the historical russofobic trends.


The net local Nordic-Baltic effect has been a kind of emerging regional Water Glass Cold War ping pong without any major notice even from Julian Lindley-French. With or without master minds several local and more distant factors are translating themselves into a kind of Nordic-Baltic hybrid military network for many hopefully melting finally to Nato, if compared to the real life and its trends a fragile net standing on air.


For the US this may seem to be interesting and it is one more argument to make the savings in this corner of the world and forget the US Baltic policy after 1939 and 1997. For the Russians it does seem a Nato offensive pushing them back to the 1709 pre Pultava position - therefore meaning a need to increase their North-Western assets. With the US gone and the Russia up, the most obvious net effect being then finally traditional Western side vacuum and Russian domination in the European “High North”.


Before that there would be many shadow ping pong hits in nobody’s interest. So far the play has been in the hands of local government teams and the functional militaries of the major players. It is always nice to tell the political boss that the other side is bullish and I need more your attention.


Now it is time to take another look and to take the process under control so that Julian Lindley-French’ “main trading and economic partners” could do their job without historical concerns on any side around the Baltic or Scandinavia.