Cold War II began with the Ukraine crisis. At least, that’s what analysts such as Robert Legvold argue, pointing out that the current pattern of proxy conflicts, espionage, and geopolitical manoeuvring fits the Cold War model. Others, however, dispute the notion that Russia and the West are currently engaged in a new Cold War, arguing that the situation is more complicated; there are now multiple centres of power, and the current divide is not as ideologically-driven.
Nevertheless, it certainly feels like old rivalries have been reignited. NATO forces are currently taking part in the biggest Western troop build-up along Russia’s borders since the Cold War proper. More than 7,000 troops have been deployed in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Meanwhile, the “frozen” conflict in Ukraine is heating up.
During the Cold War, collective defence against the Soviet threat was at the heart of NATO’s mission. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO seemed to lack a clear purpose. Today, though, even as the US President disparages NATO as “obsolete”, it’s clear that many senior members of the Trump administration still see the alliance as very relevant. Could the new “Cold War” reinvigorate NATO?
Curious to know more about NATO operations in Eastern Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
We had a comment from Dirk, who argued that Russia will see the troop build-up in Eastern Poland as an act of aggression. Why not, he suggests, instead have the troops in Germany or Western Poland with the possibility to react, but with enough distance to avoid provocation?
To get a response, we spoke to Anna Fotyga, a Polish MEP from the ruling Law and Justice party, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence. What would she say to Dirk’s suggestion?
We also had a comment from Michael, who argued that the Cold War is over, and that all Russia wants today is to be left alone, without NATO bases surrounding its borders. Is he right? And does that mean that NATO today is redundant?
To get a response, we put Michael’s comment to Afzal Khan, a British Labour MEP and Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence. What would he say?
To get another perspective, we put the same question to Hilde Vautmans, a Belgian MEP with the liberal Flemish VLD party and a member of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence. How would she respond?
Does the new ‘Cold War’ prove NATO is still relevant? Is NATO’s troop build-up in Eastern Europe needlessly provoking Russia? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!