The polycentric post-Cold-War system is over. The crisis and conflict developments  between Russia and Western democracies over the future of Ukraine demonstrate the urgent necessity to redefine the set of rules shaping post-Cold-War system. There is no need to create a new institution but to do something much more difficult.

Namely, the North Atlantic Alliance and the European Union have to change their way of thinking about the post-Soviet system and their approach toward Russia and Eastern Europe. It has to be done for simple reason: their previous Eastern policy oriented towards post-Soviet Russia and some of its neighbors in Eastern Europe has failed. The new policy has to be less re-active and more pro-active and the strategy of NATO and EU has to be not competitive among the Western countries but much more compatible and cooperative.
In other words:

in the West urgently needs the common political, economic and military strategy toward Russia

 The Head of the Europe Program at the CSIS, Heather A. Conley, was right in her evaluation: “This crisis and future U.S. policy toward the region should be viewed through the lens that transatlantic interests are best served by a Ukraine that looks toward Europe and the United States for inspiration and becomes a stable and prosperous country on the border of the European Union and NATO. Tragically, Putin’s Russia will never see Ukraine in this light, but that should not deter transatlantic policy” (Commentary of Feb. 21, 2014 published on Center for Strategic and International Studies – http://

What has to be done?

At the beginning of 2014 under auspices of the London-based European Leadership Network (ELN) – a group of eminent persons, intellectuals and experts of Europe and the United States – elaborated a fresh and innovative concept in this respect. However,

unless Russia would not return to the strong commitments undertaken in basic instruments of international law and political obligations agreed upon in the NATO-Russia Founding Act of Paris (1997) and Rome Declaration (2002) on the new quality of NATO-Russia mutual relationship – there will be neither common language nor common ground for the future oriented cooperative security system.

According to the ELN Greater Europe Project a new post-Soviet security system could be based on the following recommendations:

Mutual suspicions on the European continent could be reduced and levels of trust substantially increased under condition that both legal and political commitments and universal values are respected.

The political philosophy of “zone of influences” has to be abandoned. Then, the prevalence of thousands of nuclear weapons in European security arrangements could be addressed and levels of military predictability, transparency and confidence increased;

The combination of finance, technology, people and natural resources contained within Greater Europe could be combined and put to more innovative and efficient use to the benefit of all European nations. It would base the domestic economic pressures being faced in many European countries; All the peoples of Europe would be able to experience ease of travel to practice commerce and to experience the rich diversity of culture, history and ways of life on the continent; Instead of being distracted by internal differences, the countries of Greater Europe would be able to work more productively and collaboratively together in helping to meet the global challenges facing us all. Such a program would be possible to implement with an understanding that our enemy is neither Russia nor Russians but it is and authoritarian regime transforming itself to dictatorship governed by “special forces” with a “special tasks” as demonstrated recently in Crimea and South-Eastern Ukraine.

How to proceed?

Advisable Western reaction to Russia could be summarized in following way:

• We should avoid an increase of anti-Russian sentiments in the West.

Our enemy is neither Russia nor Russians but it is authoritarian regime transforming itself to dictatorship. We have to reach out to those Russians who think likewise;

• This regime cannot be appeased through a face-saving devices. Authoritarian dictatorship is deliberately chosen as a model of governance. Thus, for the time being there is no chance to establish new security system based on democratic community of States within the transatlantic space “from San Francisco to Vladivostok” or “from Vancouver to Kamchatka”;

• The sanctions should be introduced by the EU and the U.S. not with an intention to “punish” but with an aim to “encourage” Russia’s withdrawal from the illegal steps and actions.

• The responsibility for the future choices taken by Ukraine is up to Ukrainians. However, Ukraine should be assisted by the Western democracies in different forms and ways.

• The West must stay united in rejection the concepts of any type of “legitimized zones of privileged interests”.

• NATO should maintain a credible deterrence (in a new way) taking under consideration the qualitatively new threats and risks. The “revolts wars” (predicted and “designed” by Edward Messner) should be treated in adequate way. Unmarked troops and groups, irregular special operations of mercenaries who carry acts of armed forces and activities of self-proclaimed administrative units and pro-Russian resurgents should be regarded as casus foederis and one has to reject any business as usual approach in all activities oriented to shape a new transatlantic security system.

Concluding Remarks

In their letter attached to the Report on Building Mutual Security in the Euro-Atlantic Region four co-chairmen of a Track II dialogue Working Group (Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor Ivanov and Sam Nunn) noted two years ago: “The blunt truth is that security policies in the Euro-Atlantic region remain largely on Cold War autopilot: large strategic nuclear forces are ready to be launched in minutes; thousands of tactical nuclear weapons remain in Europe; a decades-old missile defence debate remains stuck in neutral; and new security challenges associated with prompt-strike forces, cybersecurity, and space remain contentious and inadequately addressed.This legacy contributes to tensions and mistrust across the Euro-Atlantic region and needlessly drives up the risks and costs of national defence at a time of unprecedented austerity and tight national budgets.”

Two years later (the 1st of May 2014) the ELN Group Statement addressed to the 2015 Review Conference of the NPT urged: “The United States and Russia, as the world’s leading nuclear weapons states, (have) to reiterate their willingness to maintain nuclear arms control and disarmament dialogue despite the current tensions in their relationship. This dialogue should include a focus on reducing the role of nuclear weapons in security arrangements in the Euro-Atlantic area”.

An annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine brought the region to a period of uncertainty and instability. Time is ripe to take some political decisions to move Europe and the whole transatlantic community towards a new stable and sustainable political and military regime. The new international order cannot ignore the new realities. An unconventional situation requires an unconventional thinking in search of a new transatlantic security order.

The author of the policy paper is member Prof. dr hab. Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Co- chairman of Polish- Russian Group for Difficult Matters . His autobiography can be found on the webpage 

Road to WSF2014 is a project accompanying the international conference Warsaw Security Forum 2014. It is a collection of analyses from the Forum’s Program Council as well as from globally renown security experts focusing on international security challenges and opportunities. Issued in the printed form, Road to WSF2014 will be distributed to the public administration, participants of the WSF2014, as well as to the general public.

PDF version of the policy paper can be downloaded HERE