November 28, 2018

Weakening Arms Control and Frequent Training Exercises

EPA/Scanpix

Arms control agreements are falling apart and military exercises are being organised with increasing frequency around the world.

At the same time, it is worth remembering what it was that started and ended World War I, which changed Europe beyond recognition. The November issue of Diplomaatia will cover these two subjects and much more.

Hudson Institute analyst Richard Weitz writes about the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) concluded with the Soviet Union in 1987. Weitz discussed the INF in Diplomaatia three years ago and showed how Russia had been systematically breaching the treaty over several years even then.

Sergei Sukhankin, an analyst at the Jamestown Foundation, looks at Russia’s military exercise Vostok-2018. “It appears that one of the tasks of Vostok-2018 might involve training for counter-offensive operations in the Baltic Sea region, with the ultimate goal of taking the Denmark Strait under the effective control of the Russian armed forces and imposing control over the Baltic Sea basin,” he says.

What do we know about Abkhazia? Probably not a lot. Diplomaatia remedies the situation with an interview with Abkhazi journalist Dmitri Belyi. “Society started to lose faith in 2014. 2009–11 and part of 2012 was a golden period for Abkhazia; there was a lot of construction. Money came pouring in, no one monitored how it was used, no one asked anything,” says Belyi to describe the situation in the country.

Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu), has explored former US president Bill Clinton’s recently published archive documents and found exciting information about decisions concerning the Baltic states and Clinton’s relationship with the then Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.

“Yeltsin persisted and asked again,” writes Mihkelson about the 1997 Helsinki summit. “He wanted Clinton to confirm that the former Soviet republics would not become NATO members, at least in the following decade. Clinton didn’t crack and said that he couldn’t make promises on behalf of NATO or veto any country’s wish to join NATO, and least of all allow someone else or Russia to do so. Clinton assured Yeltsin they would continue to cooperate, taking Russia’s concerns into account. He pointed out that, if he had agreed with Yeltsin, it would ruin the whole spirit of NATO.”

Toomas Hiio, Head of Research at the Estonian War Museum, commemorates World War I and its conclusion 100 years ago. “The minority nations of empires lived in mixed communities and the conflicts created by establishing borders still introduce tension in relations between several countries at times even today—Europe still faced this issue as recently as the 1990s during the bloody Yugoslav wars,” writes Hiio.

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