Eastern Europe is not a uniform region, being made up of consolidated democracies, states where democratic norms are threatened, states with disputed borders, but countries whose governments are subject to Russian confiscations and countries with territories occupied by Russian forces.
An effective US strategy under the new administration is to focus on strengthening national sovereignty and regional security without removing allies or partners.
In those countries where democratic norms are endangered, such as Poland and Hungary, the US administration must encourage pluralism and the separation of powers in the state but without ostracizing freely elected governments and without weakening NATO. Poland in particular has a strong tradition of resisting autocracy and has become a leading NATO defender against Russian revisionism. The White House, for its part, may need to explain its own democratic shortcomings, including partisan appointments to the Supreme Court, the rejection of a simple majority in the election of presidents and the problematic transition between administrations.
In countries whose borders are disputed, Biden’s national security team can help strengthen their sovereignty and integrity. In the Western Balkans, it should help complete talks between Serbia and Kosovo on landmarks for inter-state recognition. US leaders need to work closely with the EU and prevent Belgrade from postponing or diverting talks. The lack of an agreement helps Moscow’s subversion, while a bilateral agreement paves the way for regional economic development and EU integration.
The Biden administration also has to deal with the main obstacles to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress in democratic institutions. Constitutional changes are needed so that the Sarajevo government can make crucial decisions in domestic and foreign policy. First of all, the persistent threats of nationalist politicians to the integrity of Bosnia must be sanctioned because they limit economic development, restrict foreign investment and promote interethnic discord while endangering the survival of the state.
As for those countries undermined by Russia and increasingly constrained by Chinese investment, the United States must devise a release strategy. They will need to work with the EU to prevent takeovers of key economic sectors and create better conditions for public and private investment. It is a matter of urgency given the long-term negative impact of the pandemic in the region even with the distribution of a vaccine.
Biden’s White House could also promote a multinational front against Russian subversion, and to that end it will have to focus on the vulnerabilities exploited by the Kremlin, especially in Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia in areas that include disinformation, corruption and extremist financing. right and left. Moscow’s influence could also be discouraged by facilitating faster EU integration of the Western Balkan states.
In countries whose territories are occupied by Russian forces, the White House must strengthen military defenses by providing weapons systems that will deter continued aggression. In addition, Ukraine needs benchmarks for joining NATO, and Georgia, which qualifies, should begin the accession process. Moscow’s threats do not escalate into military intervention where independent states are under the NATO umbrella. This was clearly seen in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after they joined the alliance.
To be successful, Biden’s policy in Eastern Europe must be based on a strong transatlantic alliance and a firm approach to Russia, writes Janusz Bugajski, a journalist with The Hill.
NATO’s eastern flank needs fortification in the Black Sea region, namely by strengthening the maritime defense and defense capabilities of Romania and Bulgaria.
Washington’s relations with Ankara need to be rebuilt on the foundations of Allied security, as Turkey is a pillar of defense against Russia and Iran. After the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, America’s role as an honest negotiator is to pursue the attraction of both countries to the West.
Biden must avoid the trap of a Moscow reset in a vain hope that America’s adversary can be turned into a genuine partner. A more assertive US policy toward Russia could target Russia’s vulnerabilities, including growing economic weaknesses and domestic unrest.
International democratic initiatives proposed by President-elect Joe Biden should target the Russian Federation by supporting human rights, political pluralism, ethnic equality and genuine federalism in this increasingly difficult-to-manage state. Russia’s offensive against the transatlantic alliance can be turned into a more difficult defense.