ECPD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE TOWARDS US/NATO-EU-RUSSIAN RECONCILIATION Ohrid, 29 - 30 May 2020 Republic of Northern Macedonia

 

 

 

DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT

 

Chairman of the Conference

H.E. Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor, President of the ECPD Council

 

1.         Explanation of the project

Over the past years, the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD), established by the United Nations University for Peace, has been focused on the systematic research on the general topic "Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans" with substantial support from the Japan Foundation. A broad and deep insight into the problems of the contemporary Balkans, with emphasis on the Western Balkans region, still not integrated into the European Union, has been gained through a series of scientific meetings, seminars, round tables and lectures involving prominent scientists from all parts of the world, as well as ten international conferences, each devoted to some current aspect within the general thematic framework. The rich and lastingly relevant results of the work of these international conferences have been published in comprehensive and notable proceedings, which provide a valuable basis for further research and projecting the future of the Balkans, as well as for perceiving international political, economic, cultural and spiritual dynamics and development trends in a broader regional and global context.

At the latest ECPD international conferences it has become increasingly evident that success achieved in the implementation of scientific research and international cooperation under the project "Reconciliation, Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans" enables and calls for broadening the horizons of the joint activities of the ECPD and its partners and friends and, in the next stage, conceiving them in such a way that they will enable an adequate valuation of the hitherto results, on one side, and moving on in step with the observed trends in comprehensively perceived international relations, on the other. Thus, previous experience would ensure the organic analytical linkages of individual, regional and global plans for perceiving global processes. Such an approach would enable the understanding of tendencies at the level of individual states and particular regimes.

Bearing in mind the need to initiate the new cycle of ECPD activities and intensify cooperation with the Japan Foundation, based on our positive experiences and knowledge gained from our hitherto cooperation, as well as the results and lessons of international conferences, we take the liberty to suggest Toward US/NATO-European-Russian Reconciliation.

 

Methodology

 

We live in a world of unprecedented complexity.  The passage from a bipolar system to a multilateral one has been accompanied by a gradual but radical change in the value system of the political institutions. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was accompanied by the implementation of the so-called Washington Consensus, which out the market at the centre of the political vision, eliminating social concerns as marginal. United States went from being the force behind the creation of the UN and the concept of multilateralism, to the opposite view, and the political system accepted neoliberal globalization, fixated by the figures of macro economy. But the social damages done by globalization came back with revenge. Its many victims exploded with Brexit, Trump and a vast anti Europe movement. Since the crisis of 2008, xenophobe, populist and nationalist parties went into all European parliaments. And the French elections become a symbol of the decline of the traditional political system. The new President is an untested young technocrat, who declares that left and right are dead. And the Visegrad group openly proclaims illiberal democracy as a model of governance. We are in the middle of a transition...

At the same time, the new players, not only China and India, but also several middle power countries, are a reality which is central to any global analysis. So are the new Phenomena which generate human insecurity (that no aircraft carrier can assuage):

Climate change, that looks  now  more and more ungovernable; jihadists and terrorism, which have changed life of every citizen: migration, created by unwise intervention for regime change in Iraq, Libya and Syria( as el Roto, the cartoonist of El Pais said: we send bombs, and we receive immigrants): the world global economic  crisis, with  increase of national debts and reduction in global trade; the reduction of funds at national level for redistribution, a key element of the left identity; the effort to re-appropriate national sovereignty, which goes against multilateralism and international organizations, from Europe to the UN; the increase to military budgets and the corresponding reductions in the  international cooperation (the debate on the elimination of USAID is the most conspicuous symbol), the number of climate refugees, which are not  covered by any international convention; the increase of corruption worldwide, since politics have lost any relation with ideologies vision and values, the decline of citizen’s participations, and especially young people, from political institutions and elections; ….these are just some of the main points of analysis we should do on the world in which we live today, where everything is interlinked, and only  a holistic approach can let us see.

But the Conference that ECPD is calling is focused on one of the many issues, the relations between USA\NATO (as one side of the debate: should Europe have its own military system?), Europe and Russia. Even if the continuous growth of China and India projects Asia as the centre of the world in few decades, in order to reach a modus vivendi for those three actors it would be a fundamental step to reduce today’s military costs (and especially atomic threat), increase trade and cooperation, reduce the dramatic sense of insecurity, make again resources available for the social obligations, give again power to multilateralism, and eliminate the exportation of rivalry in the on-going conflicts: like Syria where now the three players are ready to fight each other to the last Syrian.

Therefore, participants are requested not to threat any other issue, for its value, which would be otherwise high. But how does this issue relate to the theme of the Conference? For instant, while China’s significance growth and its foreign policy could be the subject of a whole conference, here China should be quoted only about this issue for example: is in the interest of Europe to push Russia in the arms of China? And even furthermore; it is in the interests of USA? The very fundamental issue of climate changes should be brought with the same perspective, only as an element of analysis in relation to the three players. And there is another issue that participants should use as a guideline.

Today we have all data about any issue. The world has never been informed so well before. Civil society is not lacking information in its fight for a different world. Yet, for reasons that should be treated in a different conference, those data do not play a central role in the political institutions. We all know that Europe is not viable without a serious increase of population, and this can happen only through immigration. Yet nobody in politics has made this point, on the contrary: immigration has been used exclusively to stir xenophobia and anxiety. And yet we have all the data from the economic world showing how immigrants, with few exceptions, have played a useful role in creation of the new companies, and helped to sustain the endangered system of social security.

Therefore, this conference should be again one to provide diagnostics and concrete points for action. This background paper is a common point of departure for all participants, regardless of its flaws and limitations. It is a paper to create a sense of communality, and indicate the perimeter of our debate. ECPD, as institution, has no positions, beside those provided by the search for peace and cooperation, which are its DNA, in the framework of the United Nations. ECPD is just providing a space, hoping that it will be conducive to a frank and constructive dialogue. But and the end of the debate Andrei Gracev, the rapporteur who is recognized as a non-partisan authority on those issues, will draft a call for action, based on the debate, a document that we shall launch and distribute worldwide, so that those who want to subscribe can do so.

Belgrade is the perfect location for this conference, as it is a bridge among the three players, and its destiny was always to be a frontier place among great empires. We hope to be again a frontier place for dialogue and peace, and I would like to welcome all participants to come here, with an open mind, a sense of tolerance for other’s views, and the sense that peace and security is a task of every citizen, not just of the institutions. Let us work together to provide them with ideas which do not come from an intergovernmental official conference, but from a meeting of minds and experiences, who share the same goal: peace.

 

The General Crisis

The present crisis in relations between the US/NATO, the Europeans and Russia since the Russian annexation of Crimea and political-military interference in Ukraine in early 2014, followed by direct Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015,  has generally been depicted as a new "Cold War". Yet the situation is really much more dangerous, as recognized by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier who asserted: "It's a fallacy to think that this is like the Cold War. The current times are different and more dangerous. "

The real danger of war is indicated by the apparent shift of Trump’s administration policy in early February 2017. In August 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump had warned that US efforts to regain Crimea on behalf of Ukraine against Russia could result in World War III. Just two weeks after Donald Trump became president, the new US ambassador to the United Nations stated "We do want to better our relations with Russia; however the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions. The United States … calls for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine. " 

This is the western position on the annexation of Crimea, where the legal aspect is considered more important than the reality: Crimea did consider itself part of Russia and this cannot be seen only in the legal terms.

Different is the situation of the East Ukraine secession from Kiev. To accept self-determination as an international principle is far from being an established rule. It was used only in Kosovo, but it is rejected for number of similar realities, beginning with Catalonia. Self-determination and inviolability of borders are two principles whose reconciliation has not been achieved yet.

Assuming the new Trump’s administration will now strongly support Kiev’s claims to regain Crimea, it appears that the US/NATO and European conflict with Moscow will continue to escalate. But would such escalation take place in ways that are somewhat similar to the Cold War when conflicts were "managed" by means of US and Soviet "brinksmanship" (plus a lot of luck)? Or could the situation deteriorate even further so that the conflict begins to draw in additional parties as it widens beyond control? 

The analogy to the Cold War implies two possible outcomes to the contemporary post-Cold War crisis. The first, and more positive outcome, is that the US/NATO and Russia can continue to build up their nuclear and conventional capabilities until a stalemate is reached in Ukraine and both sides realise that a general accord over Ukraine and the Black Sea region in general, accompanied by a nuclear and conventional arms accord, is needed. 

The second outcome is, however, even more problematic, if not dangerous: This is the American and European interpretation of the Cold War as indicating that the US/NATO can continue to build up their nuclear and conventional capabilities until the other side (Russia) "blinks" and concedes eastern Ukraine, Crimea and other issues much as the Soviet Union had permitted the Warsaw Pact to disintegrate. 

The first possible outcome implies a continuation of the status quo and no real fear of war—as nuclear weapons will provide the necessary deterrence to prevent such a war given the Cold War's faith in Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).  

The second possible option, however, appears highly dubious in the contemporary circumstances in which the US and Russia (former Soviet Union) no longer dominate global power relations. It appears dubious that the Russian side will "blink" this time and it is not certain that the threat to use nuclear weapons will necessarily prevent the real possibility for major powers’ war. 

Given the miniaturization of nuclear weaponry, which makes tactical nuclear weaponry more usable, coupled with new military tactics of "hybrid" or "non-linear" warfare, plus the development of hypersonic weaponry, which could make Missile Defence systems obsolete, the possibility of war between nuclear powers cannot be ruled out as easily as it appeared to be in the Cold War.

It is accordingly possible that any number of direct—or even indirect—geopolitical conflicts in differing areas of the world, could draw the US, Europeans and the Russians (among other      actors, including China) into a direct confrontation.

Given this dangerous situation, it is not only absolutely crucial to begin to defuse US/NATO-European-Ukrainian tensions with the Russian Federation, but also to find a political settlement to the horrific conflict taking place in Syria and Iraq that has already drawn Russia, Iran, Turkey, the US, the Europeans, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states, as well as Israel and Egypt, into the maelstrom. 

In addition to at least 6 million internally displaced persons, the conflict has generated more than 4.8 million international refugees. The desperate plight of these refugees is beginning to impact the domestic politics of Turkey and the immediate region, while tending to provoke nationalist and anti-European Union movements throughout Europe.

The prospects for defusing tensions among the major and regional actors, the US/NATO, NATO-member Turkey, the Europeans, Ukraine and Russia, as well as Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia depend, to a large extent, on the ways each of these countries approach geo-strategic, military-technological and political economic disputes, as well as how the on-going war on terrorism impacts Syria and Iraq. 

Just as a political settlement of the Crimea and eastern Ukrainian questions can help leading to a more general settlement of US-European-Turkish and Russian disputes, so too can a settlement of the Syrian crisis help leading to a general settlement of the proxy wars taking place between Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia throughout the "wider Middle East".    

At the same time, however, such conflicts not only possess the geopolitical and economic dimensions, but many of them are also generated by socio-cultural and religious disputes. At its roots, a more general peace also depends on the ability of states and societies to address socio-cultural and religious differences through inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.

In the contemporary context, the rise of Islam in particular as a socio-political force in both domestic and international affairs needs careful consideration. This appears particularly true as a large number of differing anti state partisan organisations has been attempting to manipulate Islamist beliefs in order to obtain governmental and Moslem societal support for their specific political causes and goals

In addition, socio-economic inequities often force a large number of individuals of differing backgrounds to emigrate from their localities while wars often force populations to seek shelters in the new regions, being either displaced internally or else forced to leave their homelands.  These migrations can, in turn, set a stage for the new disputes and conflicts either in their own homelands or abroad. Dealing with the migrant and refugee issues will prove to be yet another major challenge in the coming years.

 

The Conference will address the following topics in the six panel discussions:

 

1. Causes of the new confrontation between Russia, Europe, and U.S.

The impact of the double enlargements of NATO and European Union from the ex-Eastern  Europe,  contrary to the engagements taken with the then President Gorbacev, which was not to move the NATO borders, in exchange for Russia’s allowing  the downing of the Berlin wall.

General Impact of 1999 NATO war "over" Kosovo on US-European-Russian relations and on the Balkans in general.

US unilateral renunciation of ABM Treaty in 2002 and the deployment of Missile Defence Systems

Impact on Russia of European Union Neighbourhood Program and EU Associate status for post-Soviet states since 2008

Question of US and European Union support for "democracy engineering" and "colour" revolutions in Ukraine and elsewhere

Conflict over energy pipelines and supplies in the Black Sea/Caucasus regions. How and where should the EU secure its energy supplies?

Impact of the 2008 Georgia Russia-War, Russian annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine on US/NATO, European, Turkish and Russian relations

Social, political and economic costs of maintaining Crimea under Russian sovereignty and of backing eastern Ukrainian "autonomists"

Impact of US and EU sanctions on Russia and of Russian sanctions on European states

Trump’s policy toward Russia and Ukraine. Why did Trump forewarn of the danger that US and NATO support for Ukraine to regain Crimea could result in World War III during his presidential campaign, but then appeared to engage a complete about face, once he became President—as indicated by the warning that Russia must give up Crimea if US sanctions are to be ended? 

Is it in the interest of Europe to push Russia into closer cooperation with China?

 

2. Possibilities for establishing trust between Russia, the US and Europeans

Discussions leading to the formal end of NATO enlargement? Is it possible? How will Moscow, Kiev and other states react?

What would be the role for a post-Brexit European Union defence and security organization in new European security architecture? Could it help mediate between the US/NATO and Russia?

Question of Missile Defences and Iran

Strategic Nuclear Arms reductions

Reduction/elimination of tactical nuclear weapons and other WMD

Conditions for removal of mutually-imposed US-EU-Russian political-economic sanctions

Reconsideration of the 2008 Medvedev proposal for a new European Security Treaty

Reconsideration of the Turkish Caucasus Stability Pact

Turkey as an intermediary between US, Europeans and Russia. Can Turkey help mediate between the US, Europeans and Russia with respect to the war on "terrorism," energy co-ordination and disputes in the Caucasus? 

 

3. New architecture of European Security and position of the U.S., European Union and Russia

Fulfilment of Minsk II? Or is another accord necessary? 

Can the US and Europeans engage in a new diplomacy, in the aftermath of Minsk II, that could attempt to pull Russia and Ukraine back from a path of destruction that could  soon drag in the US/NATO and the Europeans into a major power war?

Revival of the OSCE 1999/2008 Caucasus Stability Pact for the entire Black Sea region

Formalized Ukrainian neutrality?

Demilitarization of Black Sea region?

An "internationalized" Crimea under Russian sovereignty? Crimea as a free trade zone? Crimea under joint sovereignty? Other options?

Consideration of joint US/NATO-EU-Russian over flights, joint patrols, joint military manoeuvres and peacekeeping operations for example, among other security and confidence building measures 

Security relations between EU members and Russia

What would the role for a more integrated system of European Security and Defence? How would it relate to NATO and Russia?

 

4. Possibilities for US, Russian, European cooperation in "wider Middle East"

Reasons for US, European and Saudi support for the Syrian opposition

Refusal of the Obama Administration to engage in the Syrian conflict against the Assad regime in September 2013 after allegations of Syrian use of chemical weaponry. Reasons for Trump to intervene with cruise missile strikes in April 2017.

Reasons for the Russian intervention in Syria on the side of the Syrian regime in September 2015 two years later. Role of Iran.

Socio-political impact of Syrian/Iraq war, plus impact of "terrorist" activities on Turkey and the region, and on differing European countries, including the Balkans, Russian Caucasus and Moslem regions of Russia and Southwest Asia.

Disputes over the role of Assad leadership in the peace process and nature of the opposition movements in Syria 

Military cooperation in war on Syria against the Islamic State and other "terrorist" organizations. 

Cooperation in forging a Syrian political settlement, but with or without Assad in the future?

The Balkans as a potential model for the Black Sea and Caucasus for political and inter-ethnic reconciliation and stability after civil wars and the break-up of Yugoslavia and the NATO air campaign in 1999.

Toward a unitary Syrian government? A confederate system of governance? Disaggregation? (Here, confederate system of governance could possibly mitigate the Syrian opposition demand for Assad to step down)

What are the origins and future of groups such as the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, among others? What do they want to achieve? What is the best way for governments to deal with them? Is counter-force the only option? What are the possibilities for negotiation? 

 

5. Role of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); Paths for OSCE Transformation

Revival of 1999/2008 Caucasus Security pact proposal with full US/NATO, European Union and Russian backing and overlapping security accords

Development of OSCE-backed Contact Group to oversee new Black Sea "regional peace and development community"

Oversight of social, economic and political development of eastern Ukraine

Oversight of social, economic and political development of Crimea 

Organisation of peacekeeping in eastern Ukraine and of refugee assistance for Syria/ Iraq and elsewhere?

Other proposals?

 

6. Prospects for the Future

What are Trump’s and Putin’s actual and proposed policies? How and where will both Putin and Trump assert their respective roles as the world-powers? In cooperation as equals? Or in antagonism?

After Trump's April 2017 intervention in Syria, can the US and Russia fully cooperate in the "war on terrorism"—while also reaching political settlements over the conflicts in eastern Ukraine, Crimea,  Syria/Iraq, among other issues?

Can US, European and Russian policies be altered in a more positive direction through "new thinking"?

After Brexit, can France and Germany and other European states play a more dynamic role as an intermediary between the US and Russia?

Can the European Union develop a more integrated system of security and defence that complements or replaces NATO? How might Washington and Moscow react?

Do the OSCE and UN possess the necessary resources to deal with the refugee and immigration crisis? Role of NGOs?

This document is not for general distribution. Can a background paper be given for those who want to spiel, making clear that this document is just a guide for reflection, and ECPD is not necessarily identifying with these points for brainstorming.

 

Geostrategic Concerns

NATO and the European Union have now expanded to states that border the Russian Federation and Moscow has made clear its opposition to further NATO and EU enlargement to Ukraine and Georgia, among other states.

Moscow has also opposed to the deepening of NATO military infrastructure on the territory of new member states, also pressuring EU members Sweden and Finland not to join NATO.

What if the US/NATO called off possible NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia? What if Ukraine was formally made "neutral" so that it could not join either NATO or the Collective Security Treaty Organisation?  How would Washington and Moscow react? 

It is dubious that the US will retract NATO membership for eastern European states that have already joined NATO. But what would happen if the European Union developed more autonomous defence structures and peacekeeping forces? Could a more integrated EU systems of defence and security play a role as an intermediary between US/NATO and Russia?

What can be done to ameliorate tensions between US/NATO, EU and the Russian-led CSTO? Could these international organisations engage in joint over flights, joint patrols, joint military manoeuvres and peacekeeping operations and Combined Task Forces, for example, among other security and confidence building measures?

Could joint US/NATO-EU-CSTO peace keeping operations be implemented in Georgia and some of the "frozen conflicts" of the southern Caucasus, for example, so as to stabilise these regions and engage in regional development projects? 

Could some form of Arab-state peace force play a role in Syria if a political settlement can be achieved?  

 

New Weapons Systems

The US is modernizing its ICBMs, cruise missiles, such as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon and nuclear bombers, such as the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber. Moscow is in the process of developing new ICBMS, such as the RS-28 Sarmatia thermonuclear-armed ballistic missile (SATAN 2). Washington has accused Moscow of developing the new intermediate range missile systems that purportedly violate the 1987 INF Treaty.

Many of these ICBMs are set at "launch on warning". Yet it has been proposed that the US could eliminate its land-based ICBMs and then rely on its sea-based and air-based nuclear deterrents. How would Moscow respond to this proposal, given Russia’s heavy reliance on land based ICBMs? Can the US and Russia find ways to take these missiles off the status of 'launch on warning’? What other proposals might also help end a new nuclear arms race? Should the INF treaty and other treaties be updated or expanded to include other states? 

The US is also in the process of modernizing its "tactical" nuclear weapons systems, such as the B-61-12, and Moscow has threatened to deploy its Iskander tactical nuclear weapons systems in Kaliningrad and Crimea. Russian military strategy sees the tactical nuclear weaponry as a potential means to "de-escalate" a conventional conflict, as opposed to "deterring" a conventional conflict—as in the American strategic perspective.

Is it too much to ask a total ban on such systems? Or are reductions and inspections plausible? What if there was a mutual NATO-Russia agreement of "no first use" of nuclear weaponry or other forms of weapons of mass destruction?

What should be the position of the European Union in mediating the nuclear build-up of the US and Russia?

 

Missile Defences:

In 2002, the US unilaterally dropped the 1972 ABM Treaty without re-negotiating a new accord. What has been the impact on both US and Russian nuclear strategy of US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in terms of US Missile Defence deployments and radar systems in Poland and Romania?

Are these MD deployments needed? Will they actually work in light of the development of stealth systems and hypersonic weapons that could possibly make MD systems obsolete? If Missile Defences can be effective, at least against some missile systems, is some form of dual key system feasible? 

How can the US, Europeans and Iran restore confidence better after the Iranian test of a medium range missile in late January 2017? Iran did not see the test as a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear accord, while the new Trump’s administration has denounced that accord.

 

Russia-Ukraine-Crimea after Russian annexation

Has there been any progress on the Minsk II accords?

What steps are needed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine? Will the Donbas region separate? Are new talks needed? Should the US and Turkey join these talks along with Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany?

What are prospects for a "decentralised" Ukraine? Would Kiev and Moscow be satisfied with that? Would a peacekeeping mission prove acceptable if Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian autonomists could agree? What would be the conditions needed for both sides to accept peacekeepers?

Would be the impact on Poland and Baltic states of a “neutral” Ukraine?

How should the EU mediate its security relations with Russia?

 

Crimea

So far the US, NATO and Kiev have demanded that Moscow return Crimea to Ukraine. This position appears to be a major barrier to any possible reconciliation and serves to militarise all sides.

As it appears very dubious that Moscow will return Crimea back to Ukraine, is it possible to imagine any feasible policy alternatives—that lie in-between letting the conflict escalate and returning Crimea back to Kiev—that might be acceptable to both sides and eventually bring about a modicum of peace? 

What if the Crimea became a free trade zone— under Russian sovereignty—as form of geopolitical compromise? Could this lead to a reduction in political-military tensions in the region? Would Kiev accept it? What are the possibilities for joint Ukrainian-Russian sovereignty?

 

Caucasus

Could a Caucasus Stability Pact eventually prove feasible—if the questions of the Russian annexation of Crimea and issues surrounding the Black Sea and eastern Ukraine can be addressed, including the Minsk II accord….

What kind of peacekeeping forces could be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh, for example, or South Ossetia and Abkhazia, if political settlements could be forged in these regions?  

 

War on Terrorism

Relations between Turkey and Russia have shifted almost overnight after a Turkish F-16 pilot who shot down of a Russian fighter jet as flew from Syria into Turkish airspace in late November 2015. Such an action could have escalated into a NATO-Russia conflict, but international diplomacy helped to defuse tensions, and Turkey and Russia subsequently worked to improve relations. But Turkish-Russian relations have been once again tested by the shooting of the Russian ambassador in Ankara, who was a key to restoring Russian-Turkish relations, just before the planned meeting of Turkey, Iran and Russia over the Syrian crisis and just after the UN Resolution on Aleppo in December 2016.

In addition to finding ways to coordinate military actions against "terrorism", can Turkey now help mediate between the US, Europeans and Russia over the disputes in Caucasus and Black Sea? Can the 2008 Turkish proposal for a Caucasus Stability Pact be revived for the entire Black Sea region? 

Can Turkey assist the US, Europeans, Ukraine and Russia find a way to cooperate over pipelines and energy disputes? Or what can be done to unleash the tremendous economic potential of the Black Sea region? 

How should the US and EU respond to Ankara’s new authoritarianism?

What is the impact of the spread of terrorist activities throughout the region? How does the spread of terrorism impact Israel, Egypt and the Europeans? How does it impact the Russian Caucasus and Moslem regions of Southwest Asia and Afghanistan? 

What is the best way to fight the Islamic State? (See comments on Syria) 

Can Turkey help mediate the Syrian conflict with Iran and Russia, while ultimately bringing the US and Europeans and Saudis into a peace accord?

Is a military solution really a "solution" to the war on terrorism? Will the Islamic State movement really be destroyed by Moscow or will it simply drift to other regions, into the Russian Caucasus, North Africa, Egypt and the Sinai, or southwest Asia and Afghanistan? 

Can at least some of the Syrian opposition work with the Assad regime? Can the Assad regime step back and remove itself from direct rule after a period of time? Could a confederate solution help mitigate demands that Assad step down?

Can the US, Russia and Europeans coordinate somehow their strategy with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran?

What is the best international means to support the Syrian refugees? 

 

Impact of the US-NATO-Russian Federation relations on the Balkans

What has been the impact of the US/NATO-EU-Russian Federation relations on the inter-ethnic reconciliation and stability in the Balkans after the severe civil wars within the break-up of Yugoslavia and the NATO air campaign in 1999, and the creation of Kosovo as an independent state on the allies’ request?

Can the Balkans in some way serve as a model of political and inter-ethnic reconciliation for the Caucasus and Black Sea regions?

How is the refugee crisis in general impacting the Balkan region?

What should be done about the massive refugee crisis in general?

 

Political Economic Concerns: 

What can both sides do to wind down trade and other sanctions? What were the Russian reactions to EU Eastern Partnership? What if EU takes steps to bring Russia into a new form of EU partnership? Could the EU and Russia forge a new trade and monetary arrangements, for example?

Could both Kaliningrad and Crimea become free trade areas? Would this be of interest to Moscow? Would it help reduce political-military tensions in both the Baltic and the Black Sea regions?

What is the best means to advance the social, economic and political development of eastern Ukraine and Crimea?

What is the socio-political impact of the refugee crisis on the European Union countries? How could the Europeans better respond?

 

Hybrid or Non-linear warfare

Can military-technological advances in MOAB, FOAB, hypersonic weapons, drones and miniaturised nuclear weapons be regulated or somehow controlled?

 

Additional Concerns: Geostrategic and Political Economic Impact of rise of China

China is the elephant in the room, or as Mao might say, the monkey watching two tigers fight.

Is Beijing benefiting from US-European-Russian rivalries? Could US-European-Russian cooperation help to counterbalance the rise of China? How does Moscow see the rise of China as a political-economic and military power? Is a Russian-Chinese alliance in the making? Or are there significant disagreements between Moscow and Beijing that could create disputes between the two sides? 

Can the US, Europeans and Russia forge a common strategy with respect China without alienating the latter?

How should the EU approach China, Japan, and India?

What kind of positive role can China play in the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts?

 

 

 

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