"Re-boot of arms control" by Steinmeier

Author : Mykola Siruk

Source :

Experts talking about the German Minister proposals on arms control to increase safety in Europe
13:07, 31 August 2016

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Recently, the Federal German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier published an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung entitled "More security for everyone in Europe: A call for a re-launch of arms control".

In his article, Steinmeier stressed: "Russia's annexation of Crimea violated international law and called basic principles of the European security architecture into question. At the same time, the nature of conflicts has changed dramatically. Hybrid warfare and non-state actors are playing an ever greater role. New technologies - offensive cyber capabilities, armed drones, robots, electronic, laser and stand-off weapons - carry new dangers. New combat scenarios -smaller units, higher fighting power, faster deployment - are not covered by the existing regimes of control and transparency. The danger of a new arms race looms large.”

In German Minister’s view, a re-launch of conventional arms control must cover five areas and include agreements that

  1. define regional ceilings, minimum distances and transparency measures (especially in militarily sensitive regions such as the Baltic),
  2. take into account new military capabilities and strategies (smaller, mobile units rather than traditional, large armies; accordingly taking resources such as transport capabilities into consideration),
  3. integrate new weapons systems (e.g. drones),
  4. permit effective verification that is rapidly deployable, flexible and independent in times of crisis (e.g. carried out by the OSCE),
  5. can be applied in areas whose territorial status is disputed.

Experts comment on Steinmeier’s proposals and tell us under what conditions we can begin a dialogue with Russia on this issue.

Related: Steinmeier concedes Russia's return to G8

"Negotiations could begin only after Kyiv regain full control on border with Russia"

John Herbst, chairman of the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center in Washington, former US Ambassador to Ukraine:

Foreign Minister Steinmeier’s proposal on arms control in Europe has some interesting elements. First of all, good to see that one of the leaders of the Social Democrats in Germany, said that "Russia has violated the basic principles of the world - territorial integrity, free choice of alliances and respect for international law - are non-negotiable for us in the West." In addition, it’s good that he publicly said that in Warsaw NATO "restored" dual approach to Russia of "containment" and "relaxation". Therefore, the German foreign minister, as his Chancellor, understands the importance of curbing the Kremlin. It is important for European security.

But it is it now the time for dialogue with Russia on arms control? There is a risk that such the proposal by the West in Kremlin will be seen as weakness. Finally, the current crisis in Europe is a product of the Kremlin aggression that continues. During the Cold War the Soviet invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia led to the freezing of contacts with the West. Does it make sense to start a new dialogue with Russia until the Russian soldiers and weapons are still in Donbas? Perhaps it would be useful to offer talks on arms control as an incentive to end the aggression of Moscow. The talks could begin only after Kyiv fully restore its control over the border with Russia, all Russian troops and weapons will be withdrawn from Donbas and peace will come to eastern Ukraine.

Related: Annexing Crimea, Russia posed a question of principles of European security structure, - Steinmeier

"This Steinmeier’s offer may camouflage today's war and the annexation of Crimea"

Volodymyr Ohryzko, ex-Foreign Minister of Ukraine:

On the one hand, this article there contains the right thesis: that Russia does not comply with international treaties, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces, that verification mechanisms of Minsk agreements do not work, that Budapest Memorandum became the piece of paper. But what "conclusions from all this makes Mr. Minister? He said that we should go back to the ideas of Willy Brandt. Yes, it's a great German, who suggested that the absolutely correct policy of changes in eastern Germany – correct for that times. He made the formula “change through rapprochement”. Indeed after many years this strategy has given its results. He was the father of the new Eastern policy of West Germany, which resulted in German unification. In my opinion, you cannot compare the times of Willy Brandt and modernity. For one simple reason: that time countries even under extreme confrontation did not change the borders of each other.

What Russia has done today is unprecedented, and so now refers to Brandt - it is inadequate reference to history. Steinmeier said that apart from containment we should put forward a proposal for cooperation. I can also subscribe under this call, but I want to offer Steinmeier, to make a very specific proposal to our aggressor – Russia. I want him to say: Please get out of the Crimea and Donbas, restore the status quo, elements of a trust, because without them nothing works in international relations.

And in response we do not hear such a proposal, but read others, to some extent, adequate and reasonable proposals, but that does not apply to today's key themes of security - that Russia violated international law, annexed the Crimea and waging war against Ukraine. By the way, it is strange to hear the phrase about the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and we must say more precisely: the beginning is the Russian aggression against Ukraine. But Mr. Steinmeier is afraid to talk about it out loud.

Related: Steinmeier: Foreign ministers to pay more efforts to settle situation in Donbas

Related: Steinmeier’s statements about Crimea are mockery of free European position, - Bild

Related: Steinmeier: ‘There are offers to improve security situation in Ukraine’




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