The battle for the Ukrainian buffer. Borderlands: A New Strategic Landscape - George Friedman

The battle for the Ukrainian buffer. Borderlands: A New Strategic Landscape - George Friedman6 in May 2014 was published on the information resource of the Stratfor analytical center another article by the American political analyst George Friedman on the geopolitical background of the current crisis in Ukraine (1).

Friedman quite frankly tells of the centenary geopolitics of the United States on the continent of Eurasia. Noteworthy is the idea of ​​Friedman that the current crisis in Ukraine, and, consequently, indirectly, the whole policy of the so-called. The "Eastern Partnership" of the European Union serves to consolidate the military alliance under the auspices of the United States on the territory of this buffer. This policy aims to perpetuate US domination over Eurasia by maintaining balance and blocking the possibility of the emergence of a local hegemon here. From this point of view, it is noteworthy that the US policy in the geopolitical buffer on the borders of Europe is directed not only against Russia, but also Germany. Friedman believes that geopolitical processes are objective. He admits that in the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine, Russia defends the interests of its own security. It is not yet clear to an American political scientist how far Russia is ready to go in re-creating its own security buffer on its border with Europe. However, in all likelihood, he is ready to recognize the transition under the control of Russia to Ukraine with the condition that Russia stops at this and recognizes US control over the rest of the buffer territory. An additional guarantor of this, from the point of view of the United States, could be the arming of buffer countries and the creation here of a "working alliance" under the auspices of the United States.

George Friedman: Borderlands: A New Strategic Landscape

This week I intend to visit a group of countries that are currently on the front line between Russia and the European Peninsula: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan. This tour allows you to see the details. stories. But it is impossible to understand these details out of context. The more I think about recent events, the more I understand: what happened in Ukraine can only be understood in view of European geopolitics from the First World War, 1914, which began a hundred years ago.

In August Guns, Barabara Takman wrote an excellent and accurate history of how the First World War began. (2) According to her version, it was a combination of circumstances, a distorted perception of personalities and decisions. This concerned leaders, and its history implied the idea that the First World War was the result of miscalculation and misunderstanding. I believe that if you focus on the details, the war may seem like a misfortune and an unavoidable occurrence. I hold a different opinion. World War I was inevitable since the unification of Germany in 1871. When this happened, and the way it happened, it was probably out of the will of the decision makers. That this happened was a geopolitical necessity. And an understanding of what geopolitical necessity is, this is what gives us the basis for understanding what is happening in Ukraine, and what is likely to happen in the next moment.

German problem

The unification of Germany created an extremely dynamic national state. At the turn of the twentieth century, Germany reached the level of the British economy. However, the British economy was tied to an empire that was built in the name of British interests. Germany did not have such an empire. It achieved parity through domestic growth and exports on a competitive basis. It just became one of the problems of Germany. The international economic system was based on the system of imperial possessions in combination with European industrialism. Germany lacked these possessions, and it did not have military-political control over its markets. While its economy was equal to the British, Germany’s risks were much higher.

Economic risks were compounded by strategic risk. Germany was located on the North European Plain - a relatively flat area, with only a few rivers flowing from south to north, serving as natural barriers. The Germans had Russians in the east and French in the west. Moscow and Paris became allies. If they simultaneously attacked Germany at any time of their choice, Germany would be subjected to strong pressure. The Germans did not know about the Russian-French intentions, but they knew about their capabilities. In the event of war, the Germans had to strike first in one direction, achieve victory there and immediately transfer their masses to the opposite direction.

In the event of a probable war, the uncertainty of its outcome remained, no matter what strategy the Germans ultimately chose. But unlike Tuckman’s view of the war, the war that began with the German strike was inevitable. The war was not the result of misunderstanding. Rather, it was the result of economic and strategic realities.

The Germans hit the French first, but did not beat them. Therefore, they were trapped in the war on two fronts, which they feared, but at least they completely mobilized their forces and were able to resist. The second opportunity to realize their strategy came to them in the winter of 1917, when the uprising began against the Russian Tsar, who abdicated the throne of March 15 of 1917. Germany, in fact, determined the March Revolutionary movement to repatriate Lenin to Russia by means of a notorious sealed train. There were serious concerns that the Russians might withdraw from the war, and in this case German military power would increase. The German victory seemed not only possible, but also probable. If this happened, and if German troops from Russia were sent to France, then it is likely that they could organize an offensive to defeat the British and French.

In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. There were several reasons, including the threat that German submarines could close the Atlantic for American shipping, but the main fear was that, thanks to events in Russia, the Germans could defeat the Allies. The United States had a deep interest in not having the Eurasian continent fall under the control of any one nation. Labor, resources and technology under the control of the Germans would have surpassed those of the United States. The German victory was impossible, and therefore, during the year, the US sent over a million soldiers to Europe to help counter the German offensive after the October 1917 revolution of the year knocked out Russia from the war. Under the peace treaty, Russia ceded Ukraine to the Germans, which would put Russia in danger if the Germans defeated the Anglo-French alliance. Ultimately, the American intervention in Europe defeated the Germans, and the Russians regained control of Ukraine.

American intervention was a decisive factor and determined the US strategy in Eurasia for a whole century. This allowed us to maintain a balance of power between the powers. When the balance shifts, Washington increases aid, and in case of emergency intervenes decisively in the context of an existing and effective military alliance.

World War II was similar. The Germans again created a dangerous situation by concluding an alliance with the Soviets, ensuring war on one front. This time they defeated France. At the right moment, Germany turned against Russia in an attempt to achieve decisive dominance in Eurasia. The United States was neutral at first, but provided assistance to the British and Russians. And even after 1941 entered the war in December, the US abstained from decisive action until the very last moment. The United States did invade North Africa, Sicily, and the rest of Italy, but these were marginal operations on the periphery of German rule. The decisive blow did not follow until June 1944, the moment when the German armies were significantly weakened by the Soviet army, which received significant supplies from the United States. The decisive campaign in northern Europe lasted less than a year and was won with limited losses for the US compared to other combatants. It was a military intervention in the context of a powerful military alliance.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union positioned itself by creating deep buffers. He kept the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine as the first line of defense. His second defensive echelon consisted of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In addition, the Soviet buffer was held in the center of Germany on the North German Plain. Given the lessons of history, the Soviets considered it necessary to create as deep a buffer as possible. And this line, in fact, excluded an attack on the Soviet Union.

The American response was more active than in the first two wars, but it was not decisive. The United States deployed forces in West Germany in the context of a strong military alliance. This alliance was most likely insufficient to block the Soviet attack. The United States promised to deliver additional troops in the event of war, and also guaranteed that, if necessary, they were ready to use nuclear weapons in order to stop the attacks of the USSR.

The model was similar in this sense. The calculation was to maintain a balance of power with a minimum American exposure. In case the balance was broken, the United States was ready to send substantially more troops. At worst, the United States argued, they were ready to use decisive power. It is important to note that the United States retained the possibility of strengthening its nuclear power.

The Soviets never attacked, in part because they did not need this — they were not in danger, and partly because the risk associated with the attack was too high. Thus, the United States pursued a consistent strategy in all three wars. First, they avoided cost overruns, limiting their presence to the minimum necessary. The United States did not participate in World War I until the very last moment. In World War II, America’s participation was expressed in peripheral operations at relatively low costs. During the Cold War, they positioned enough power to convince the Soviets of American intentions. The United States has always kept the conflict under control and has always been ready for full intervention at the latest and right time with minimal losses and in the context of an effective military alliance.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the 1989 revolution of the year were swept away by the buffers that the Soviets seized in World War II. Their strategic position was worse than it was even before the world wars or even from the seventeenth century. In the event that the internal buffer from the Baltic states, Belarus or Ukraine became hostile and part of the western system of the alliance, the threat for Russia would be enormous. The Baltic countries were admitted to NATO, and the alliance was now less than 100 miles from St. Petersburg. If Ukraine and Belarus went by the same route, the city of Smolensk, which was deep in the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire, would become a border city, and the distance to Moscow from NATO territory would be 250 miles.

A mitigating factor was that NATO was weak and fragmented. But it didn’t give much consolation to the Russians, who saw how Germany turned from a weak and fragmented country in 1932 to a mighty power by 1938. Where there is a production base, the military potential can be quickly created, and intentions can change overnight. Thus, as the events of recent months have shown, for Russia, the prevention of Ukraine’s absorption by the western system of the alliance is crucial.

US approach

The American strategy in Europe remains the same as it was in 1914 year - to allow the European balance of powers to cope. Public statements to the side indicate that the United States was comfortable with the weakness of the European powers as long as the Russians were also weak. There was no threat of hegemon lifting. The American strategy was, as always, to allow the balance to maintain itself, and to intervene with the help necessary to maintain the balance, and to carry out military intervention in the context of a reliable alliance at a crucial moment, but not earlier. From this it follows that the United States is not ready to do more than participate in symbolic efforts right now. The Russian military is able to seize Ukraine, although logistical problems are serious. But the United States is unable to deploy a decisive defensive force in Ukraine. The shift in the European balance of power is far from a decisive one, and the United States has time to look at the development of the situation.

At the moment, the United States is most likely ready to expand access to arms of the countries that I will visit, along with Bulgaria and the Baltic countries. But the problem of the United States is that its historical strategy relies on the existence of significant military forces — a working alliance in which several countries participate. It makes no sense for the United States to provide weapons to countries that will not cooperate with each other and are not able to position enough force to use these weapons.

After the events in Ukraine, many European countries discussed the increase in defense spending and cooperation. It is not clear that it is NATO that is the vehicle for this cooperation. As we observed during meetings between US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany’s readiness to take part in an offensive action is limited. The economic crisis is still raging in southern Europe. The desire to participate by the British and the French, or the "Iberians" is limited. It is difficult to recognize that NATO plays an effective military role.

The United States sees this as a situation where vulnerable countries must take decisive steps. There is no emergency for the United States itself. For Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan, along with other countries located along the buffer line, the situation is not yet an emergency one. But she could materialize with amazing speed. Russians do not have much power, but they are more powerful than any of these countries alone, or even all of them together. Given the US strategy, the United States would be ready to begin providing assistance, but substantial assistance requires significant actions from the buffer countries.

The First and Second World Wars were about the status of Germany in Europe. This was the essence of what was in the cold war, although it was decorated differently. We are once again discussing the status of Germany. Today it does not pose a threat to the West. Eastern threat is weak. The force that prompted Germany in two world wars is not there. Logically, there is little reason to take risks.

The American fear of the Eurasian hegemon also has a distant character. Russia is far from representing such a threat. She is still struggling to regain her buffers. Like Germany, she is not ready to engage in aggressive actions. So the United States can continue its age-old risk-reduction strategy for as long as possible. At the same time, buffer countries face a potential threat that prudence requires to prepare for.

However, it is not yet clear how the Russian threat materializes. It is also not clear how much the Russians, besides rhetoric, have the political will to act decisively. The best solution for buffer states would be a massive NATO intervention. It will not happen. The second best option for them would be massive American intervention. This, however, will not happen. Buffer states want to pass on the costs of protecting them to others — a rational strategy if they can achieve this.

Impersonal geopolitical forces attract Russia to try to bring back the borderland that is critically important to it. In the process, the peoples bordering on the Russian state will not know how far the Russians will try to go in this matter. For Russia, the deeper the buffer, the better. But, the deeper the buffer, the higher the cost of maintaining it. Russians are not ready for such a movement. But over time, when their strength and confidence increase, their actions will become less predictable. When faced with a potential existential threat, a prudent response is a greater response. Buffer states need weapons and ally. The United States will provide a degree of support, regardless of what the Germans will do, and therefore NATO. But the principal decision is in the hands of the Poles, the Slovaks, the Hungarians, the Romanians, the Serbs and the Azerbaijanis, along with that of other buffer states. Some of them, like Azerbaijan, have already decided to arm and are looking for a union. Some, like Hungary, are watching and waiting.

Mark Twain is believed to have said: "History does not repeat, it rhymes." There is a rhyme that we can hear. The process is in its early stages and is already enclosed in a course similar to the one in which Germany ended up in the 1914 year. Forces are beginning to gather, and if the process has begun, then it will not be controlled by free will. On my trip, I will listen to this rhyme. I need to see her if she is. And, if so, then I need to make sure that those most at risk also hear this rhyme. I'll let you know if I hear it.
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  1. +19
    13 May 2014 18: 43
    In such a situation, we can rely precisely on what ultimately will be the SINGLE RETURN for the United States - the power of our nuclear forces. I think the perimeter is on duty, not in vain it has been so actively remembered recently.
    1. +15
      13 May 2014 18: 48
      Quote: Silkway0026
      will be an INSURABLE RETURN for the United States - the power of our nuclear forces.
    2. avg
      13 May 2014 23: 41
      The mistake of this political scientist is that for some reason he believes that the balance of power will always be in favor of the United States. And it is changing, and much faster than the mattresses had expected. And the day is not far off when they will have to in Texas, and build a buffer along the Great Lakes.
      1. GRune
        14 May 2014 08: 37
        As for always, he never writes anywhere ... Just the US fear of the appearance of a new hegemon and encourages them to take actions to weaken Russia at the moment, according to the author ...
  2. +14
    13 May 2014 18: 45
    This week I intend to visit a group of countries that are currently on the front line between Russia and the European Peninsula: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Azerbaijan.

    Now, it’s immediately clear that those listed by Europe are not. so, fluff meat and rats for polytechnic experiments. and all sorts of Chukhonites, Estonians, and whom they have not even mentioned yet. crying
  3. +8
    13 May 2014 18: 55
    Uncle George, you d.u.s.a.? A, Friedman is a visionary.
  4. buser
    13 May 2014 19: 08
    however, what a cunning author ... It turns out that if NATO is not ready to fight, and the USA is not ready, but Germany finally does not want to, then Russia now does not need buffers ??? Some kind of Jesuit logic ... And what words ??? Buffers ... It’s good that they didn’t call them bumpers.
  5. +10
    13 May 2014 19: 13
    From h. I ears of your face .... The end of Amer’s hegemony is inevitable .....
  6. +1
    13 May 2014 19: 24
    An interesting look at historical events in the last hundred years. The article makes you think. Article plus.
  7. Orc-xnumx
    13 May 2014 19: 27
    ... and quit Transnistria? .UJOU .UJU!
  8. +7
    13 May 2014 19: 46
    I have never seen such a rare golimyem. Somewhere in the middle I quit reading.
    1. +2
      13 May 2014 21: 48
      And I almost fell asleep! There is a lot of such nonsense in the west! All of them are "defenders", "care" for world peace! "Caring" you are ours! From your "concern" "carries" a mile away by war, bombing, civilian deaths! Shove your "concern" to yourself in za.dn.ts.u, dear Friedman, and you "like"! laughing
    2. 0
      14 May 2014 14: 11
      And I after the words

      Ultimately, the American intervention in Europe defeated the Germans,

      Zadornov "Foreva".
  9. +4
    13 May 2014 20: 03
    There is nothing surprising: the United States has always sought to have someone else's cannon fodder with its high profits in production. And the so-called "buffers" are noodles to Europe, which was only partly grateful to Russia (if the latter "dragged chestnuts" for her from the fire of various European wars or intercourse): this is from the "History of the Russian State" (500 episodes of rather entertaining events)
  10. +2
    13 May 2014 20: 27
    Our story also rhymes well with the end of the wars, either in Paris or in Berlin, if the gay people want us to rhyme, then please, the road there is already beaten by our great-grandfathers and great-great-great-grandfathers, and if someone wants to rhyme about Washington, then our Russian flag at the Capitol will look very good.
  11. +4
    13 May 2014 20: 29
    What caring Americans. All they think about the world, the poor all over the world are waving to save the world. How they are concerned about the buffer between Russia and Western Europe.
    Better think about something else.
    The USA does not have a buffer between Russia and China. Water is not an obstacle with modern weapons. And the Berengov Strait is narrow.
  12. +2
    13 May 2014 20: 35
    In short, one-usa option to destroy and dissolve ukroinu wassat
  13. PRN
    13 May 2014 20: 40
    What buffers don’t do, but you won’t be able to leave behind puddles! Neither in the event of war, nor in the event of a major financial crisis, will drag in (see photo).
  14. +6
    13 May 2014 21: 04
    And the Berengov Strait is narrow.
    The strait is a temporary barrier for the ground forces. He does not limit the nuclear triad
  15. +4
    13 May 2014 21: 10
    The Russians do not have great power, but they are more powerful than any of these countries alone, or even all taken together.

    Well, you fucking bent! And yet I have to admit that NATO alone does not pull against Russia ("Russians do not have much power" ...), but this is enough to wash Geyropa with a bloody boy!
    Next you need to scare:
    Given the US strategy, the United States would be ready to start providing assistance, but substantial assistance requires significant action on the part of the buffer countries.

    In other words - you are at war, and we, as always, will come to remove the cream at the end! How is it in American, in Anglo-Saxon, I would say!
    It is also not clear how Russians, in addition to rhetoric, have the political will to act decisively.

    Well, you are completely weak in the head! What - Syria, Crimea have not yet convinced the readiness of the runway to go to the end !? But more than 70% of the adult population of the country trust him! This is not Obama's rating for you!
    Buffer States need weapons and ally. The United States will provide a degree of support, regardless of what the Germans, and therefore NATO, will do.

    I translate into Russian: we need to shake off our guns, planes, ships. Therefore, neophytes! you need to buy it from us, and not from Germany or someone from NATO.
    And recognition is very expensive:
    for Russia, preventing Ukraine’s takeover of the Western system of the alliance is crucial. The Russian military is able to seize Ukraine, although the logistical problems are serious. But the United States is unable to deploy a decisive defensive force in Ukraine
    And that's it! A superpower, without unleashing 3 MV, is unable to cope with the situation! RUSSIA STANDED ON THE WAY !!! THIS IS NOT ARABS FOR YOU, THIS IS RUSSIAN !!! And Otto von Bismarck said: "It's not enough to kill a Russian, he still needs to be knocked down!" IMHO.
    1. 0
      14 May 2014 06: 03
      Yesterday, on one resource, I read the statements of the American mercenary about the armies and soldiers of different countries. About the Russian excerpt: if the Russian is retreating, be sure he ran after the cartridges ... one wounded Russian soldier can, not necessarily a mercenary (professional) can restrain the advance of the enemy company ... when the Russian soldier is left alone he can shoot from any kind of weapon , and as if it’s always been a matter of doing these ... and the plane will strike down with an engineer shovel.
  16. koshh
    13 May 2014 21: 34
    Yes, nonsense is rare.
  17. 3vs
    13 May 2014 22: 39
    All this suggests the idea of ​​strengthening the nuclear triad in the Far East and
    chat with Cuba ...
  18. +1
    13 May 2014 23: 50
    What is the Marxist approach of this a. And one-sided. They look at the world only from the point of view of profit, without taking into account the historical, cultural, ethnographic and other features of different countries of Europe. The reasons for the beginning of the First World War - economic - yes, he is right - sales markets, etc., but there were also other, deeper processes of confrontation between the West and Russia. The slogan "Drang nach Osten" was first heard shortly before the outbreak of the war, not long by historical standards. He was the main tenet of the philisophia of Pan-Germanism. Domestic philosophers opposed them with the theory of Pan-Slavism - the Slavic Confederation from the Adriatic to the Pacific Ocean.
    Common only army, navy and currency. Everyone has his own board.
    The British from such a prospect immediately got out of the way and staged an assassination attempt in Sarajevo, forcing Russia to fight with Germany and Austria-Hungary. And we had to dump the Turks in the Bosphorus, and only then deal with the Austrians. Well, okay, it's a thing of the past.
    It will not work for them. The Romanians and Hungarians and the Psheks "love each other" too much.
    And yet, the level of amateurism of their officials sometimes strikes me.
    By God, we have many third-year students who know more.
    This gives us good chances in "geochess". The Soviet chess school has always been at its best.
  19. yulka2980
    14 May 2014 04: 49
    It’s not mastered all this crazy article, it turns out we still have to say thank you to the USA for not wanting to fight. Some rubbish! They got brains full of french fries and hamburgers there or something? We see no power! Our forces are enough for you, not a wave am take it!
  20. 0
    14 May 2014 05: 55
    The United States did not directly fight a strong enemy and will not fight. Who is ready to fight with Russia for the implementation of state geopolitics, but no one in fact. America needs to begin to strengthen Germany as a potential counterbalance to Russia, but it is dangerously strong Germany will quickly get out of control and it is not known how it will end. In general, acting steadily and competently in Russia is quite realistic to defend its interests.
  21. 0
    14 May 2014 07: 29
    A need to wet
  22. 0
    14 May 2014 11: 14
    Quote: avg
    The mistake of this political scientist is that for some reason he believes that the balance of power will always be in favor of the United States. And it is changing, and much faster than the mattresses had expected. And the day is not far off when they will have to in Texas, and build a buffer along the Great Lakes.

    Nevertheless, a number of other intelligence analysts, for example, Yakov Kedmi (Israel), also say, Russia will allow the holding of the 25 elections in May or not and will be the answer to the truth of the strength of Russia for both enemies and allies and those forces that rely on Russia.

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