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15 Jun, 2009 20:43

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, June 15

ROAR: Russian Opinion and Analytics Review, June 15

This Monday ROAR presents opinions on the UN Security Council Resolution 1874 on North Korea and an academic’s view of the future of Russo-German relations.

KOMMERSANT publishes an article by RIA Novosti’s New York correspondent Dmitry Gornostaev who outlines the details of the resolution and says that it took two weeks for the Security Council to agree upon the text of the document, main obstacles having been the clauses restricting transportation by air and sea of materials and equipment falling under sanctions.

China and Russia, says the writer, objected to the strict regime of inspections suggested by the U.S. and others, stating that these inspections may cause dangerous precedents and even conflict. North Korea would see a threat to its sovereignty if such inspections are done often, especially in the open international waters, by navy ships.

The writer reminds the reader that both Russia and China have obligations to provide military aid to North Korea in case of a military assault on its territory or an invasion, and the fact that these obligations were taken up for a different reason (at the end of the Korean War a U.S. or South Korean attack was considered highly possible) doesn’t cancel their legally binding character.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that a vessel inspection or a series of vessel inspections may actually trigger a war. The paper quotes Dr. Konstantin Asmolov of the Institute of the Far East in Moscow as saying: ‘If something serious happens with North Korea, it would most probably happen because of an inspection attempt.’ The academic says that North Korea’s reaction to the inspection of one of its vessels would be severe. No one among the Pyongyang leaders is suicidal, he continues, they understand that they cannot win a war and they will not start a war.

Besides, they lack weapons with which they could have had a really devastating first-strike capability: their nukes are all traceable, and they are not of the strength that can be significant enough militarily, even if they can guarantee psychological impact upon the enemy. The academic says that despite these evident limitations, there are cynics in other countries who are constantly testing the nerves of the North Korean leadership, slowly but surely driving the North Koreans into a nervous short circuit.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA has an article by Dr. Alexey Fenenko of the Institute of International Security, Russian Academy of Sciences. He writes that the latest developments in Germany’s Russia policies sound alarming to the ear of an expert.

The academic writes that the policy outline given by the German Foreign minister Frank-Walther Steinmeier on the 10th of June in his lecture in Moscow sounds, at the first reading, perfectly in favor of the continuation of the Russo-German dialogue. However if the goals and spheres of Russo-German cooperation look the same as usual, plus the necessary objectives of the current moment, the overall understanding of the cooperation is different from what the previous German leaders had.

The German Foreign minister suggested that the cooperation between Germany and Russia should be viewed broader than before, it should be extrapolated on the multi-lateral cooperation in Europe and in the world and vice versa, says the academic. He continues: the suggestion means that Russia and Germany should maintain their long-term bilateral dialogue, but they should do it as part of the system of multi-lateral relations, where everything is interconnected and interdependent.

It sounds alarming, says the academic, because relations between Russia and Germany have been a separate, mutually beneficial element of international politics, which has a capability to influence positively the status of Germany on the one hand and provide positive experience of cooperation with Russia to other Western powers on the other.

In the past 20 years, writes the academic, through relations with Russia, Germany has been reinstating its status as a world power. The Moscow Treaty of 1990 removed the remnants of the occupied nation status but maintained some restrictions on German sovereignty, like the ban on referendums on military problems, on the demands to withdraw all foreign troops from Germany, on the taking of important foreign policy decisions without consent of the allied powers who won WWII, on the development of certain elements of the armed forces.

Due to those restrictions the actual legal status of Germany as a sovereign state is incomparable with the freer status of other European nations, to say nothing of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. But discussing world problems with Russia as an equal in the bilateral format, accepted and welcomed by the Russian side, has been the only way out of that limited sovereignty situation for Germany.

This arrangement between Russia and Germany has been beneficial to Germany, it has also been helpful in the trans-Atlantic relations, it has made Germany a significant military power through participation in foreign wars within the global anti-terrorism coalition, Germany has become de-facto equal to the U.S. and Russia in international affairs, even lacking the legal status for it.

Such European countries as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have already been trying to involve Germany in their anti-Russian policies, says the academic, but so far to no avail. Putting Russo-German relations into the general European context of relations may make Germany vulnerable to such efforts of ‘smaller’ European states, as in the European context they often find themselves in the position to call the shots.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT