The enlargement of NATO in the north and the cut off of Russian gas in the east entangle the Ukraine crisis

the bet of Finland Y Sweden to join the NATO it changes the security horizon in northern Europe and the Arctic, predicts unpredictable Russian pressure on the Baltic and pushes the possibility of negotiations to end the war in Ukraine a little further away. The geostrategic and geoeconomic challenges that it is generating the russian invasion of its neighbor to the south have opened a new stage of mistrust, arms build-up and the risk of enlarging the current conflict towards Europe, and it opens an insurmountable rift between the West and Russia that will mark the current decade in a very dangerous way.

Russia has failed to stop NATO advances towards its borders, one of the reasons for its invasion of Ukraine, and has become mired in a conflict that may last much longer than the Kremlin initially estimated. The reduction in the supply of Russian gas to Europe that is taking place these days tightens that rope even more, adds greater uncertainties to the geopolitical situation and ensures serious problems in the European Union until a source of hydrocarbon supply is found to replace Russia, but above all it widens the gap with Moscow and ensures the inexorable return to a Cold War with very hot spots in the old continent.

Finland’s message to join “as soon as possible” the North Atlantic Treaty launched by its president, Sauli Niinistö, and its prime minister, sanna marinand support for the accession of an official report from the Swedish Parliament debunk the idea that NATO is a relic from another time. It is also clear, with the Russian threat to take “retaliatory measures” and to give “a military-technical response”, that Moscow is willing to maintain its toughness in the European security theater. The Finnish and Swedish challenge is not without obstacles and the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoganhas advanced that his country does not welcome the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATOdue to the refuge that those two countries have traditionally given to Kurdish militiamen. Turkey is the NATO country closest to Russiawhich adds more shadows to the intentions of the Scandinavians.

Zelensky intends to pressure Europe not to reduce arms shipments to Ukraine

Added to the new additions to NATO is the clarion call in Brussels to coordinate the “rearmament” of Europe and its coordination on all fronts. NATO, led by the United States, is not enough, and now the great Europeans, that is, Germany and France, which claim their decision-making power in military matters, ignoring the inevitable economic blow that this reorganization of the common defense will entail for the EU at a time of great weakness after the covid pandemic and with the already materialized threat of not receive Russian hydrocarbons. Energy that at this precise moment will not be possible to replace in the short term and perhaps not in the medium term, no matter how eager the United States is to sell its liquefied gas to Europe, a product of the frackinga very aggressive extraction technique with the environment.

The last step in the ‘energy war’, parallel to the war on the battlefield and in which Europe is in the front line of fire, has been taken by Russia with the announcement of the cutting off the gas that reaches Europe through Poland through the Yamal Europe gas pipeline. This decision is a backlash against European sanctions on Russia and has come after Ukraine also decided this week to stop the flow of gas through a passage in the east of the country that is in territory controlled by the Russians.

The announcement in this regard made by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, aims to pressure Europe not to reduce arms shipments to Ukraine and is an angry response to the half-hearted attempts by Germany and France to win back the negotiating table. With Russia entrenched in the east of the country, the government in Kiev does not seem to have many expectations that a peace agreement does not go through the de facto division of Ukraine and the loss, not only of Donbas and Crimea, but of much of its eastern coast.

That Germany is already feeling the drop in the flow of Russian gas is not a good incentive to prolong the war with German heavy weapons

However, the fact that Germany is already feeling the drop in Russian gas flow and the prospect that tanks of this fuel are empty before next winter (as will also happen in Poland and Bulgaria), it will not be a good incentive to prolong the war with heavy German weapons destined for the Ukrainian army, and rather it could support the position of those who defend the need to go to negotiations and stop the conflict as soon as possible .

The CEO of the Spanish company Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz, He said it in Bilbao at a business meeting: at the moment “the 150,000 million cubic meters of gas that Europe receives from Russia cannot be replaced”. Imaz has made it clear that 40% of this fuel will not be covered in the near future. The gas war is already served, not only for Germany and other Central European countries that depend directly on hydrocarbons, but for the entire continent, since suppliers such as Algeria are moving to meet other needs, not only those of Spain. That is why negotiations are essential, to stop the human massacre in Ukraine and to prevent economic collapse (and also social, therefore) in the coming months throughout Europe. The figures are clear: in 2021, 45% of the gas that Europe consumed was Russian and replacing it is not a matter of two days.

Washington, Moscow’s main adversary

The weight of the return to dialogue is not, however, in the hands of Berlin or Paris. Washington is Moscow’s main adversary and the Kremlin will not accept another at the negotiating table. And the United States, with its president Joe Biden at the helm, he has not relented in his unconditional commitment to Ukraine, due to its strategic importance and pending business in this country. For this reason, the United States has already committed nearly 40,000 million dollars in weapons and aid to Ukraine, an amount that exceeds federal contributions for the global fight against climate change.

The possible union to NATO of Finland and Sweden could lead to a new Atlantic enlargement

The eventual joining of NATO from Finland to Sweden does not have for Russia the level of threat that a Ukraine and a Transcaucasus posed Georgia within the Alliancebut it is still a significant cause for concern that could lead to the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons around the Baltic Sea as a counterweight to the new Atlantic enlargement and the probable installation of anti-missile systems in the territories of the new members.

And not only is the security of the Baltic at stake. Russia has been betting for many years on the activation of the trade through the ice-free passages of the Arctic Ocean in direct cooperation with China, which sees in this corridor a shortcut to supply European markets with its technology and products. Until now the hegemony in the Arctic was Russian, but a possible accession of Finland and Sweden changes things in the region. The melting of the Arctic, with the progressive reduction of the polar sea ice due to global warming, has made it possible to open new navigation routes, such as the so-called Northern Sea Route (NSR) run by China and Russia. It has also led Moscow to weave a new security strategy in the area, with the deployment of missile systems, radars, airports and ports along its entire northern coast. In addition, it is believed that in the Arctic there are reserves of 90,000 million barrels of oil and seven trillion cubic meters of natural gas. More than half of those oil fields and almost all of the gas reserves are in Russian territory.

Neither Russia nor China will allow NATO enlarged to the north to mean the minimal risk for a trade that both countries consider of vital importance. The transfer of Russian gas may be redirected to Asia over time, once Europe acquires its desired energy independence from Moscow, but commercial traffic from China to the West will not be able to stop and also passes through Russian territory, by land or by the coast arctic In this sense, it is a mistake to think that the predominant opinions that today within the EU and in Washington are committed to cornering Russia and turning this country into a pariah state will endure over time. As the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has once again pointed out about possible negotiations, peace “will not be achieved by denying or excluding anyone.”

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