EU-NATO Unity Only Ink on Paper as Members Lose Grip, Analysts Say
18:14 GMT 11.01.2023 (Updated: 11:21 GMT 05.03.2023)
NATO and EU leadership signed a third joint declaration on January 10 which broadened cooperation between the two blocs and declared that they play a "complementary, coherent and mutually reinforcing role."
"NATO has been and remains in crisis – seeking to justify new missions to replace its original construct. It is currently poorly led, and highly politicized," retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a former analyst for the US Department of Defense, told Sputnik.
"Its own members are beginning to exercise their own power to reject the US and UK vision for NATO, as we see with Turkey, Hungary, even France and Italy."
Even though the European Union is an economic bloc first, it has been deepening its cooperation with the military alliance NATO since 2016 when the first joint declaration between the two was inked.
The 2016 declaration outlined seven areas of cooperation between the two: countering hybrid threats; operational cooperation including at sea and on migration; cyber security and defense; defense capabilities; defense industry and research; exercises; and supporting Eastern and Southern partners’ capacity-building efforts.
Two years later, in 2018, NATO and the EU signed a second Joint Declaration in Brussels calling for swift and demonstrable progress in implementation.
The third declaration has proclaimed Russia and China its major challenges, calling for "closer cooperation" between NATO and the EU, which appears to be losing its veneer of a merely economic union.
"NATO and the EU play complementary, coherent and mutually reinforcing roles in supporting international peace and security," the declaration stipulates. "We will further mobilize the combined set of instruments at our disposal, be they political, economic or military, to pursue our common objectives to the benefit of our one billion citizens."
11 January 2023, 12:49 GMT
NATO & EU Economies in Bad Shape
The EU has played an active role in the Ukraine crisis with High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell adopting an unusually bellicose stance since the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Borrell openly called to settle the conflict on the battlefield, rather than at the negotiating table, last April.
"Unquestionably [Washington and Brussels] are already indirect parties to the crisis, and in the case of Poland, they are direct parties insofar as their troops are on the battlefield," Gilbert Doctorow, an international relations and Russian affairs analyst, told Sputnik.
Kwiatkowski agrees that even though EU and US leaderships diligently emphasize that they are not going to become a party to the Ukrainian conflict in any way, both have long been indirectly involved in it.
"Most major media have even used the term proxy war for the US/NATO effort and the unprecedented financial and arms assistance to Kiev. They are already a party to the crisis, with tens of billions invested into it, and major acts of terrorism conducted by its membership, specifically concerning the Nord Stream pipeline destruction, but beyond that to assisting in the actual fighting via intelligence and operational assistance of certain weapons systems."
EU-NATO saber-rattling comes at a time when their member-states are suffering from inflation and unfolding recessions. The World Bank warned on Tuesday that the global economy is in a bad shape due to weaker growth in all the world’s top economies, i.e. the United States, Europe and China.
The organization slashed its forecast for global growth this year by nearly half, to just 1.7%, with the US and the EU growing vulnerable to further possible supply chain disruptions and the world's economic slowdown. The West's sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia last year largely contributed to galloping food and energy prices, exacerbating the already volatile economic situation.
"We have already seen that EU and US economies have suffered much more than they had expected in terms of energy costs and flows, budgetary strain, and depletion of the arsenals of EU and US with the push to provide various weapons and ammunition to Ukraine," said the former Pentagon analyst. "It is widely known that all economic sanctions generally backfire, and fail to achieve their objectives. In this case, however, we have seen an irreversible impact on US and EU trade and financial opportunities as eastern and southern hemisphere nations look to a future that is de-dollarized, and less vulnerable to American foreign policy."
Major Risks of Escalation Fanned by EU & NATO
Apart from inflicting further damage to their respective economies, western countries are also running a risk of a nuclear escalation by sending more and more weapons to Kiev, expanding NATO, and militarizing Europe, some western observers have warned.
"The chances of a big war are mildly present," said Doctorow. "Much will depend on how rationally or irrationally the US reacts to a Russian victory on the field of battle and Ukrainian capitulation."
For her part, Kwiatkowski suggested that "the only chance of a big war would be via a nuclear engagement, either false flagged, accidentally, or publicly proclaimed."
"NATO does not have the military capability, or the leadership and focus, required to conduct a long air, land and sea war over Ukraine and it does not want to," she said. "With an already weakened set of western economies, such a war is not only opposed by the people of Europe, it cannot be paid for."
According to the retired lieutenant colonel, a "big" conventional war would be short, and a nuclear conflict would of course be a very different situation: it could accelerate the end of the EU, the end of NATO, and possibly the collapse of the US government.
"I'm pretty sure EU leadership specifically is not willing to risk that, and again, I expect territorial negotiations to be conducted in the first half of 2023," she remarked.
In general, Kwiatkowski is skeptical about the unfolding EU-NATO rapprochement: "Instead of unity, in NATO and within the EU, we have the increasing pressures and complaints by member states with a real possibility that some countries may even consider exiting those organizations this year and in coming years," the retired lieutenant colonel concluded.