Shaking up Europe’s security architecture 

  • IASbaba
  • February 25, 2022
  • 0
UPSC Articles
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  • GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

Shaking up Europe’s security architecture 

Context: The commencement of Russian military action in Ukraine is having huge implication on the global security order. At the heart of it is the instability in the post-Cold War security order. 

What events led to emboldening of Russia?

  • Reengagement between US & Russia: A meeting between U.S. President Biden and Russia’s President Vladmir Putin in June 2021 wanted to reverse seven years of relentless U.S.-Russia acrimony. 
  • Growing US-China tensions: US was seeking a modus vivendi with Russia and disengagement from conflicts in Europe and West Asia, to enable a sharper U.S. focus on domestic challenges and the external challenge from its principal strategic adversary, China. 
  • Space for Russia: Mr. Putin saw this reengagement as an opportunity to revive Russia’s flagging economy and expand its freedom of political action globally. However, he wanted this engagement on equal terms where Russia’s concerns are met, so that it does not constantly worry about strategic posture of NATO.

What were Russia’s concerns with West?

  • Russia has repeatedly articulated its grievances: 
  • NATO’s expansion violated promises made prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union
  • Ukraine’s accession to NATO would cross Russia’s red lines
  • NATO’s strategic posture poses a continuing security threat to Russia
  • NATO’s expansion as a politico-military alliance, even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, was at the U.S.’s initiative. 
    • It was intended to temper European ambitions for strategic autonomy from the sole superpower and to counter Russia’s resurgence. 

How has the nature of NATO changed in the post Cold-war era?

  • NATO countries today span a geography of uneven economic development and a diversity of political traditions and historical consciousness. 
  • Moreover, the original glue that held NATO together — ideological solidarity (free world against communist expansion) and an existential military threat — dissolved with the collapse of communism and the Warsaw Pact. There is no ideology to oppose now.
  • Threat perceptions for NATO varies, depending on geographical location and historical experience. This heterogeneity means a diversity of interests. 
  • American leadership has normally succeeded in papering over differences, but the growing ambitions of countries is making this increasingly difficult.

Did US actions eventually led to the present crisis?

  • US pressure on NATO in 2008 to recognise Ukraine’s membership aspirations and its encouragement for a change of government in Ukraine in 2014, provoked the Russian annexation of Crimea. 
  • The subsequent armed separatist movement in eastern Ukraine (Donbas) led to the Minsk accords of 2014-15, which provided for a special status for this region within Ukraine. 
  • Ukraine considers this an unfair outcome, and the U.S. has supported its efforts to reinterpret the accords to its advantage. 
  • In recent months, the U.S. signalled that it would support the full implementation of the Minsk accords, but apparently found it difficult to shake the entrenched interests sufficiently to make it happen. 
  • This may have finally convinced Mr. Putin that his concerns would not be met through negotiations.
  • U.S. interests have also divided NATO on energy security. 
    • For Germany, the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) Russia-Germany gas pipeline is the cheapest source of gas for its industry. 
    • US deem it a geopolitical project, increasing European dependence on Russian energy. US also has commercial interest in exporting LNG to Europe.
    • Ukraine fears the diminution of gas transit revenues, and also that if its importance for gas transit declines, so will Europe’s support in its disputes with Russia. 
    • European countries that oppose NS2 are ramping up their LNG import infrastructure to increase imports from the U.S.

What does the future hold?

  • The manner in which NATO countries implement the promised harsh sanctions against Russia will demonstrate whether, how much and for how long, this crisis will keep them united. 
  • European order that does not accommodate Russia’s concerns through genuine negotiation cannot be stable in the long term.
    • France’s President Emmanuel Macron has been making this point forcefully, arguing for Europe to regain its strategic autonomy. 
    • He has called NATO “brain-dead” and said that Europe, as a “geopolitical power” should control its own destiny, regaining “military sovereignty” and re-opening a dialogue with Russia.

What is the outlook for India?

  • India will have to balance the pressure from one strategic partner to condemn the violation of international law, with that from another to understand its legitimate concerns.(Just like what India did in 2014)
  • As Russia-West confrontation sharpens further, the U.S. Administration’s intensified engagement in Europe will inevitably dilute its focus on the Indo-Pacific, causing India to make some tactical calibration of actions in its neighbourhood. 


  • Geopolitics, however, is a long game, and the larger context of the U.S.-China rivalry could, at some point in the not too distant future, reopen the question of how Russia fits into the European security order.

Connecting the dots:

For a dedicated peer group, Motivation & Quick updates, Join our official telegram channel – https://t.me/IASbabaOfficialAccount

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel HERE to watch Explainer Videos, Strategy Sessions, Toppers Talks & many more…

Search now.....

Sign Up To Receive Regular Updates