Atlantic Update 6/10/2011


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his views on NATO’s dim future and Europe’s lack of commitment to NATO. Russia is making deals to secure its energy security whereas the European Central Bank continues to assist Greece in tackling its financial crisis. Europe also takes the lead in buiding a UN resolution against Syria instead of taking military action against President Assad. 


Russia will not abandon basket says Medvedev (Ria Novosti)

Russia has no plans to abandon the bi-currency basket against which the central bank sets the ruble’s real foreign exchange rate, and hopes that the economic problems in the euro zone will be solved in the near future, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday. "Europe is our strategic partner and the situation in the euro zone influences how a number of goals which we set in our country is solved," Medvedev told a news conference after a Russia-EU summit.

Gazprom Neft wants to start oil production in Venezuela in 2013 (Ria Novosti)

Russia’s Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state-controlled energy giant Gazprom, wants to start oil production at the Junin-6 block in the oil-rich Orinoco River belt in Venezuela in 2013, CEO Alexander Dyukov said on Thursday. "We are discussing a possible launch of early production in 2013 with the Venezuelans," Dyukov told an annual shareholders meeting, adding that Gazprom Neft planned to make exploratory drillings at the deposit in 2011.

Russia, China to sign major gas deal nxt week- ambassador (Ria Novosti)

Russia and China will finalize a major gas supply deal during a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Moscow next week, China’s ambassador to Russia Li Hui said on Friday. If the long-awaited deal is finally signed, it will clear the way for China to buy 68 billion cubic meters of gas a year for over 30 years. "Gas negotiations are going on, an agreement on the gas price formula is expected to be reached in the near future," he told journalists. "An intergovernmental deal and a contract between companies are supposed to be signed during the upcoming visit by China’s Chairman Hu Jintao."

Politicians ‘Are Lying Through Their Teeth’ on Greek Aid (Der Spiegel)

Germany is prepared to help Greece, but only if private creditors are involved in any new bailout plan. The European Central Bank, however, remains opposed to any kind of debt restructuring. German commentators say the ECB, having bought billions in Greek bonds, is too deeply involved to be independent. The European Central Bank may not think much of the German government’s plans to save Greece from its debt crisis, but at least German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has found support at home. On Friday, the German parliament, the Bundestag, voted in favor of a motion that clears the way for more aid for Athens. The motion was proposed by the coalition parties — the conservative Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union and the business-friendly Free Democratic Party — and ties support for a new bailout to certain conditions. Those include the involvement of private creditors in a new rescue effort and greater privatization and austerity efforts on the part of the Greeks. The non-binding motion is designed to provide Berlin with guidelines for upcoming negotiations with Germany’s European partners over a new bailout package for Greece. 

ECB: Non-voluntary Greek restructuring would be ‘enormous mistake’(EUobserver)

The European Central Bank chief on Thursday warned against any non-voluntary restructuring of Greek debt, rebuffing the German position in favour of such a move.

"We would say it’s an enormous mistake to embark on decisions that would trigger a credit event," Jean-Claude Trichet told reporters in Frankfurt.
He said that the bank would oppose "concepts which would not be purely voluntary," wording that suggests the ECB could accept a rollover of debts agreed between the Greek state and its creditors, but not the significant losses that would be involved in what Berlin appears to be backing.

The IMF and democratic responsibility (European Voice)

Those who argue that Europe should surrender its leadership of the International Monetary Fund are ignoring its democratic mission. In his recent book “The future of power”, Harvard University professor Joseph Nye, discussing the relative decline in influence in the world of the United States, and so of the West, says that our new rivals and enemies have no intention of confronting us militarily. Citing China as an example, he says its strategists have realised that a conventional confrontation with the US would be folly. So they have “developed a strategy of ‘unrestricted warfare’ that combines electronic, diplomatic, cyber-, terrorist proxy, economic and propaganda tools to deceive and exhaust American systems”. How does the contest for the leadership of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fit in to this analysis? The fund is an Anglo-American institution. It was founded after the Second World War when the US was emerging as militarily, economically and intellectually dominant and the British were grimly hanging on to the coat tails of the US. 

Gates Laments NATO’s Military, Political Flaws (Defense News)

In his last official policy speech at the end of an 11-day tour, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates lambasted NATO for its shortcomings in terms of military capabilities and political will in Afghanistan. In a speech at a high-level Security and Defence Agenda think-tank event in Brussels, Gates cited helicopters, transport aircraft, surveillance and reconnaissance, and intelligence as areas where NATO has struggled. Gates added that "similar shortcomings in capability and political will had the potential to jeopardize the NATO air and sea campaign in Libya."

Germany’s ‘make-or-break’ energy experiment (The Washington Post)

Germany’s ambitious plan to eliminate nuclear power over the next decade has energized environmentalists, but the country faces a tricky task if it wants to keep its promise to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming, analysts say. History has made many Germans cautious about the destructive power of technology, and the decision that ended the decades-long debate over nuclear power opened a new one about the impact on emissions. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Germany would need more fossil-fuel power plants to fill the gap.

Canada to Pull Out of NATO Air Surveillance (Defense News)

Canadian Forces will soon announce their withdrawal from a key NATO air surveillance program as part of cost-cutting measures, an official told AFP June 9. The NATO Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) is widely used by the alliance in Afghanistan and Libya to monitor air space and guide fighter jets to their targets.

UK, France build case for UN resolution against Syria (CS Monitor)

Europe is again taking the lead for international response in another chapter of the Arab Spring, arguing for a UN resolution against Syria. Unlike in Libya, it’s not calling for military action. With thousands of Syrians fleeing to Turkey in fear of more attacks by government forces, Europe is intensifying diplomatic pressure on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to stop using violence against civilians. Supported by Germany and Portugal, the UK and France have drafted a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s suppression of pro-democracy protests but not calling for military action or additional sanctions. While Europe is again taking the lead on rallying international response to a Middle East uprising, many analysts say the West is cautious about moving too strongly against Syria because of its strategic importance in the region. What’s more, many say, Assad will continue to act with impunity as long as he feels that the West considers him as part of an eventual solution to ending the violence there. 

Russia Says NATO Not Listening on Missile Shield (Defense News)

NATO and Russia failed to reach a breakthrough on a missile shield project in Europe on June 8 with the Russian defense minister complaining that Moscow’s demands were falling on deaf ears. After talks between NATO defense ministers and their Russian counterpart in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russian demands for a legal guarantee that the project was not directed at Russia.

NATO Plans Force to Respond to Cyber Attacks (Defense News)

NATO wants to beef up its cyber defense capabilities with the creation of a special task force to detect and respond to Internet attacks, an alliance expert said at a conference on cyber security here on June 8.
"NATO is planning to establish the Cyber Red Team (…) that would provide a significant contribution to the improvement of NATO’s cyber defense capability," Luc Dandurand and expert with NATO’s C3 Agency told delegates to the alliance’s third annual cyber defense conference.


EU missing an opportunity on Russia (EUObserver)

What is the point of the EU-Russia summit that begins on 9 June? Of course Russia represents a huge market for EU goods, and it is also a source of much oil and gas. It is also a big and important country, which has had good and improving relations with the EU of late. But it is not obvious that Russia is taking the EU seriously, or that the EU has used the ‘strategic partnership’ with Moscow to make any ‘strategic’ progress on issues the EU cares about. Although the relations are at their best for many years, EU member-states seem resigned to Russia remaining messy, undemocratic and unco-operative for the foreseeable future. Adopting a wait-and-see attitude, the EU risks neglecting a number of challenges it faces in its neighbourhood and in its relationship with Russia itself.


HuiHui Ooi is with the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program.

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