Russia Is More Cornered Than in 2008, Foreign Policy Expert Says

Andres Kasekamp. (Postimees/Scanpix)
4/7/2014 1:25 PM
Category: Politics

During the Russian-Georgian conflict of 2008, the West was arguing over who is to blame, whereas with the events in Ukraine, a consensus was reached quite quickly that Russia is the aggressor, said University of Tartu Baltic Politics Professor Andres Kasekamp.

“Russia is truly isolated in this situation. There is arguing over which sanctions to impose, how extensive they should be, but a great consensus has been reached rather quickly in NATO and the European Union on the fact that Russia is the aggressor, that Russia's actions are illegal and there must be consequences of some kind," Kasekamp told on Saturday. 

"Russia feels much more cornered now than it did with the Georgian conflict, when several Western countries were ready to believe Russia's claims that Georgia and Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili were actually to blame for everything,”

On Friday, an international conference on NATO-EU relations was held in Tallinn, where diplomats said that Article 5 is no miracle cure and it is actually preceded by Article 3, which says that all member states must be able to defend themselves.

This is where the 2 percent defense spending comes in, although several countries no longer meet that target, Kasekamp said.

British Ambassador Christopher Holtby said at the conference that spending 2 percent on defense is one thing and what it is spent on specifically is another matter – a stab at old member states that spend most of their defense budget on personnel, pensions and infrastructure, Kasekamp said.

According to him, one of the downsides of so-called “smart defense” - avoiding duplicating the capabilities of other member states – is an excuse often used by Western politicians for cuts in defense spending. 

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