9th International Security Conference in Moscow
Alongside the recent NATO-EU summit, when the annual Munich Security Conference takes place, there is rarely much opportunity for other news regarding geopolitics to take the spotlight in the mainstream media. However, in contrast to this constant exposure of Western doctrine, it is virtually concealed a fact that an International Security Conference has just occurred in Moscow (22 – 24 June). Despite its insistence on being an organisation dedicated to the goal of global peace and security, NATO formally refused the invitation to participate in the Conference. This arrogance and lack of diplomatic maturity is certainly a poor basis for a sustainable security architecture from NATO’s perspective.
A Time to Ease Tensions
At the conference, host Vladimir Putin expressed Russian concerns about the continued establishment of NATO military infrastructure close to Russia's borders and complained that the Western military alliance consistently refuses to constructively discuss Russia's proposals to de-escalate tensions, thereby reducing the risk of unpredictable incidents. There was no response from NATO. Instead, the EU summit – which took place almost simultaneously – decided to take a tougher stance against Russia. In stark contrast, the head of the Russian FSB, Alexander Bortnikov, reaffirmed Russia's willingness to co-operate with the Americans, in order to fight against cybercrime, as well as expressing his hope for reciprocity. On the opening day of the conference, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu demanded more transparency on the deployment of missiles in Europe and referred to Putin's proposals, such as a moratorium on deploying medium-range and short-range missiles in Europe. The Kremlin subsequently criticised NATO for its refusal to partake, in this regard.
A Regional Solution for Afghanistan
Referring to the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan, Sergei Shoygu stated that US and NATO forces have not been able to achieve significant results over the past two decades. Shoygu also argued that achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan will not be possible without the support of Iran and Pakistan. In a speech, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai specifically called upon Russia, China, Pakistan and other countries in the region to increase support for the Afghan peace process. "We hope that Iran will join this process," Karzai stated. Interestingly, this stance hardly coincides with the threat of terrorism that is always being ventilated by the West, which has been alleged by the latter to emanate from Iran.
Vladimir Putin himself did not only complain about the increasing "turbulence in geopolitical processes" and the "undermining of international law", but he also underlined Russia's willingness to co-operate at the conference. Putin stated, among other things, that, "We never dictate our will to other countries. We are ready to participate in the solution of global and regional problems on an equal footing, and with political and diplomatic methods, and to expand constructive co-operation with all countries." However, this would first require the respective international actors in question actually initiating mutual dialogue with one another – something that the West should not refuse any longer.
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