Putin leads in Ukraine hybrid war, says major General retired Frank van Kappen, a member of the upper house of the Parliament of the Netherlands. In the past General van Kappen also worked as a security adviser to the UN and NATO. What is Putin's hybrid war and how far willing to go West in response, the General said in an interview with Radio Liberty.
In 2004 by order of the NATO carried out the Multiple Futures study is an attempt to look into the future, to get an idea of what in the near future we can expect in the field of international security. Over the study worked more than eight thousand scientists, military and politicians, and scientists not only from NATO countries. The researchers came to several major conclusions (and these predictions are already coming true). According to one of the scenarios, as weak, divided international community will be possible to return to the policy of the sample of the XIX century, when the stronger States will impose their will on weak States, because the international community, which could rein in such behavior, is virtually absent. Today, we are seeing about this development, says General Frank van Kappen:
– Neither Ukraine nor the rest of the country, found themselves on the frontline of geopolitical platforms had no opportunity to choose their fate: they are sandwiched between the Russian sphere of influence on one side and Western or European. If the country is at the shear line, then expect trouble. The jacket is also always bursting to the seam. Today, the line of cut, which previously passed through Poland (take a look at the history of this country over the past century), Hungary, Czechoslovakia, moved to the East and passes through the Ukraine, through Belarus, Moldova and Georgia.
The second conclusion was that NATO in 2004 was that we will witness conflicts on the frontline of geopolitical platforms. What Russia is doing today with the countries of Eastern Europe that are not members of NATO or the EU, could be contagious example for other regional powers.
Another finding of the study NATO in 2004 was a prediction of change in method of warfare, isn't it?
It's called hybrid warfare, hybrid war. This term has many definitions, he devoted a lot of books. Hybrid war is a mixture of classic warfare with the use of irregular armed formations. The state, which leads hybrid war, making a deal with non-state performers by the militants, local groups, organizations, the relationship is formally denied. These performers can do things that the state itself can not do, because any state is obliged to follow the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention on the laws of war on land, the agreements with other countries. All the dirty work can be shifted on shoulders of non-state groups.
Can I send troops to another country and say that they're not your troops?
– Yes, this is hybrid war. On the one hand, used regular troops, even if only with the purpose to intimidate – now to the border with Ukraine pulled together about 40 thousand Russian soldiers (there are discrepancies in the calculations, but about as many, and it's a lot). Thus, to Ukraine under pressure: "a Wrong step, and watch what will happen to you!" On the other hand, in Ukraine there are groups that run from Russia. In such a scheme of warfare is extremely difficult to respond. When the border of the adjacent state crosses a tank division, it's all clear. But in this case nothing like this is done. Instead, it is a silent annexation with the involvement of militants and ethnic groups, by arrangement and under the leadership of Russia. Try and find the answer to this technique.
– The annexation of the Crimea and the West is already swallowed?
– America and Europe will always continue to shout that they are the transition of Crimea to Russia does not recognize, it will be another frozen conflict. Exactly the same as Nagorno-Karabakh. But, although legally we do not recognize the de facto annexation of Crimea happened – Crimea became part of Russia, there is now ruled by Vladimir Putin, Putin got what he wanted. Here's another important distinctive feature of hybrid warfare: the global community is placed before a fait accompli. The world community remains to say "We do not recognize," but the annexation has already happened. In the short term, this is a very winning tactic: "Look what I got! Without a single shot!"
And no sanctions so far the Russian leader does not care at all...
– No, I don't get. But tougher sanctions will follow. They are introduced incrementally in the hope that Putin after each wave of sanctions can deescalate conflict. At the last stage will be blocked in Russia payment systems Visa and MasterCard, the confiscation of foreign property. Putin's statements that Russia will create its own payment system, saying only that he does not understand how the international financial market. What is he going to tie this system, who will host the Russian credit card? The West has imposed sanctions very carefully, because we too will suffer from them. But we will survive, but the damage that sanctions can cause the Russian economy will be enormous. Today Russia has sailed 67 billion euros of investment. This figure will increase to 160-170 billion euros. For the Russian economy a heavy blow. The ruble is already very weak, on the Russian stock exchanges there was a decline of 14 percent. That is, the consequences already evident. What if the West will impose financial sanctions or close the gas valve? Yes, today, Europe gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, but replace the sources of gas supply is found, the burden could be shared so that we can get through this. For Russia it would be a real problem. Today Russia makes the supply of gas to Europe 178 billion euros per year. Russia lives from the sale of raw materials abroad. Then you have to sell to the Chinese and the Indians. This is real, but the infrastructure for that yet no.
– Do comes and to such serious sanctions?
I think such sanctions will be put into operation only in extreme cases. If Russia attacked the Baltic state NATO member. That's where West passes the limit line.
– Attack with "little green men" count?
– Of course. Putin in any case not going to enter the Baltic States on the tank, because then he openly declares war on NATO. The fifth article of the North Atlantic Treaty States that an attack on one country of NATO is an attack on all member countries. Instead, we can see the same scenario that was observed so far. You can, for example, to warm up the situation in the Estonian town of Narva, where many Russians live. Again the hybrid war, contacts with local organizations, and Narva declares independence. Estonia reacts rigidly. Russia declares its duty to protect Russian population from neo-Nazis. If Putin moved to Estonia on the tank, then everything would be simple. It would thus NATO war, and he would have lost – I can do you an absolute guarantee. Price of millions of lives. But nobody wanted a war. If Putin acts with the help of hybrid war, then he may expect that NATO will not resort to the Fifth article. Free will simply proclaimed the people's Republic of Narva. She will ask to be allowed in Russia. Whether it is an occasion for the fifth article? And if not a reason, all NATO members from Eastern Europe will exclaim: NATO is worth nothing. In this sense, Putin will score a goal against NATO.
– What is your prediction of the most probable development of events, the most likely plan of Putin?
– I believe that Putin will not touch the Baltic States. It's too risky. It's possible, is that if he will succeed in Eastern Ukraine (and it is still a question, because the percentage of ethnic Russians there is less than in the Crimea, and not all of them support the separatists), he'll try to capture more territory North of Crimea, where there is a "crane" for submission to the Crimea gas and water, as well as Odessa. Then his hands will be all black sea coast and the way in Transnistria, where already there are Russian troops and where the population and wants to Russia. In the sphere of Russian influence will be all the East and South of Ukraine. What will this mean for the Russian economy is another question. It will cost very expensive. Donbass – potentially non-poor region, but with very outdated industrial complex. In Soviet times, Ukraine had plenty of specialists in the field of rocketry, nuclear weapons development, aircraft construction. Here is made and served Intercontinental ballistic missile SS-18 ("Satan").
I can't document this, but I have heard repeatedly, including from the business community that in recent years the military-technical enterprises in Ukraine comes to the Russian management, and consciously to bankrupt company after closing to offer a valuable HR jobs in Russia. However, Russia needs foreign investments and Western expertise and technology. In the short term, Putin will win many votes, many Russians will be proud of the fact that Russia has become more expanded sphere of influence. But in the field of economy Putin's policy in the long term will bring huge losses. Even from a geopolitical point of view, what Putin is now doing, in the long term unwise. These geopolitical problems of Russia at its southern borders in the Caucasus, and in Siberia, on the border with China, which also passes geopolitical cut. Ongoing Kremlin policy artificially intensify the sense of belonging to an ethnic community may withdraw the Russian side. Not only in the Caucasus but also in Eastern Siberia, where quite a lot of Chinese. The Western borders of Russia were still very quiet. Putin claims that Russia is "surrounded". But who, tell, was the cause of this unrest on the Western borders?
Putin blamed the EU and NATO to the East.
– Yes, it's his version of events. Actually the EU nobody touts in their ranks and certainly not forced membership. EU countries are becoming because they want to do. And there's no guarantee. Candidate countries have to reform to be accepted. Look how hard it has joined the EU, Bulgaria and Romania. Ukraine it will take at least 20 years. But the EU could not tell independent States, who wished to become candidates for membership that this is impossible, because otherwise "angry Putin". As a matter of principle for the EU is the right of every state to exercise free choice. If the people of any state want to – it's their choice, but it needs to be carried out without application of pressure. This freedom of choice today, and take Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, and later Belarus (mark my words). They are not allowed to make an independent choice.
– What about NATO expansion?
– As for NATO, it is very important the two understandings. First, after the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine was the third nuclear power in the world. Nobody likes it – neither the Americans, nor Europe, nor Russia. Therefore, in Budapest in 1994 was signed the Treaty by which Ukraine renounced nuclear weapons in return for guarantees of preservation of its territorial integrity from several countries. Ukraine surrendered all its nuclear weapons, but now one of the countries that were supposed to guarantee the sovereignty of Ukraine, has violated the contract. Secondly, there was another agreement with Russia. Some countries, former members of the Warsaw Pact and even former Soviet republics want to join NATO. NATO conducted on this subject with Russia open negotiations. Russia gave the go-ahead to the expansion of NATO to the East with a condition that in these new countries of the Alliance will not be a high concentration of military forces and nuclear weapons. NATO fulfills this arrangement and even now is not going to break it. By the way, to join NATO, it is necessary also to fulfill a lot of requirements. NATO too has not forced anybody to membership, NATO membership is very difficult.
I think that Putin gave NATO a new life!
– Some say that it is time to hang up the poster with thanks to Putin who saved the European Union and NATO. Recently heard a lot of voices that claimed that NATO had lost all meaning that Russia is our friend and partner, and Europe is absolutely safe. And suddenly we woke up and realized that Russia is still not a partner, and, apparently, the enemy. And suddenly Sweden Finland saprosites in NATO. NATO and the critics are silent now.
– For your information, NATO is going to establish along the Eastern borders of the block buffer, tightly disaterous there is a small army that would not violate agreements with Russia, but will prevent the penetration of illegal armed groups across the borders of NATO. This can be done without the crucial participation of the United States?
Europe is an economical giant but a political and military dwarf. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Europe is fully cashed in a peace dividend – the funds freed up as a result of refusal of an arms race. The number of armed forces in Europe was reduced by half. At the disposal of the Dutch air force were 200 military aircraft, now about 60, of which the fly pieces 30. The Netherlands had a thousand tanks, is now none. There were 22 military frigate, now 6. Not only the Netherlands, all of Europe is absolutely launched his army. European politicians put at the forefront of what is called low politics, care about the welfare of their citizens, completely ignoring high politics. On the security of the European average spent one and a half percent of GDP, while NATO recommends spending at least 2 percent. 75 percent of NATO budget is replenished from the USA, without USA Europe militarily – nothing. America this state of Affairs is frankly tired. There is a serious likelihood that the difficult international situation will force European politicians to take up their military budgets, but really to build up military strength will be possible even with increased funding not earlier than in a few years.
And yet, Mr. van Koppen, you always say the geopolitical confrontation like the President of Russia really calculates the situation for many years to come, think about the future of their country. Many liberal Russian analysts believe that Putin is interested solely in winning in the short term, and in the victory for Russia, and personally to themselves and their immediate environment.
– In the short term, Putin will win this confrontation, because no one knows how to properly respond to hybrid war. But in the medium and long term, Putin will lose. Russia will get more and more dependent on foreign technology and capital, would be sandwiched between two powerful economic blocs – the TRANS-Atlantic bloc the USA and the EU, which is now being formed and will consist of over 800 million inhabitants, and China. Russia is their economy and not be able to raise, because raise it will be possible, only having established trade links with the West and extortion corruption. And another thing: the West is not advantageous to have at hand an unstable, hostile, poor Russia. We are interested in Russia as a stable partner, – said the member of the upper house of the Parliament of the Netherlands, major General retired Frank van Kappen.
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