Reform of the Chinese armed forces gained new momentum under Xi Jinping in 2015. The main argument behind the strategy, structure, and equipment modernisation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the active defence of China’s global interests to strengthen its competitiveness with the United States. A short-term goal is to make the PLA operationally capable of projecting China’s power abroad constantly, using joint exercises, peacekeeping missions, and the development of military infrastructure. One recent example was opening of China’s first foreign military base in Djibouti. The PLA should also be capable of defending China’s territory and overseas interests by performing combat operations abroad. This means a possible change to the non-intervention clause that has until now been a crucial element of China’s foreign policy.
Conflicts in post-Soviet areas involving de facto states have remained unresolved since the ceasefires in the early 1990s. By heating up periodically, these conflicts threaten broader regional security, and by remaining unresolved, limit their chances for political association and economic integration with the EU, undermining the Union’s Eastern Partnership. In recent years, the EU’s tensions with Russia, the ever-growing dependence of most post-Soviet de facto states on Russia, the recent re-escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh, and recently emerged, protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine have made the situation more complicated and urgent. Since the EU’s current approach towards these “frozen conflicts” has so far shown little result, the EU and the V4 should take a more active role in resolving these conflicts and might want to consider stepping up engagement with the post-Soviet de facto states. Increasing the interaction and extending its scope while at the same time reassuring the parent states that this will not constitute “de facto recognition” would de-isolate the populations of these territories, reduce their dependence on Russia and provide incentives for conflict resolution.
As the U.S. under President Donald Trump leans towards protectionist economic policy, China sees an opportunity to become a driving force of globalisation. It presents itself as having the economic potential and political clout crucial to being its champion. However, China’s still relatively closed market, use of prohibited trade practices, stalled internal economic reforms, social challenges, and political disputes with neighbouring countries make its claim less probable in the years to come. For now, China lacks the credibility to be an engine of globalisation.
Dialogue between Russia and NATO is indispensable to limit the risk of unintended military confrontation amid increased tension. Without dialogue, Alliance cohesion is also at stake. To develop a balance between deterrence and dialogue, it is necessary to understand how the two actions relate to each other, what lessons the West can learn from the past, and what goals it wants to achieve apart from limiting the risk of confrontation.
The security of NATO members in the Nordic-Baltic region is interconnected by such factors as the possibility of geographical escalation, the importance of securing the North Atlantic for U.S. reinforcement of Europe, and the key role of cooperation with NATO partners Sweden and Finland. NATO must consider these interconnections as it continues to adapt to the challenge posed by Russia. NATO’s further adaptation should fill in the gaps in Allied force posture and be guided by an overarching principle of ensuring coherence between its existing elements and new ones. Given Poland and Norway’s close views on NATO and transatlantic relations, as well as their credibility rooted in their various contributions to the Alliance, the countries should jointly advocate a coherent process in the Nordic-Baltic region.
cooperation between Norway and Poland in the energy sector has recently taken
very tangible shape. In 2016, Poland decided to launch the Northern Gate
project—a set of gas interconnections aiming to link the
Polish gas market with gas deposits on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. With
that decision, Poland wants to diversify away from Russia to mitigate energy
security and political risks connected with the high level of dependence on one
supplier. But in terms of Polish-Norwegian cooperation, the question of
security of gas supply that Poland wants to address is accompanied by the
question of the security of gas demand, a key concern for gas producers such as
Norway. Hence, cooperation in the gas sector examined from those two
perspectives may actually bring benefits for both countries and promises of