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One hundred years after the start of World War I, three decades after the Marshall Plan, and 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the transatlantic relationship finds itself at another pivotal juncture.

On March 22-23 The German Marshall found of the United States (GMF) host Brussels Forum. An annual high-level meeting of the most influential U.S., European, and Swedish FM arlbildt on the Transatlantic relationship and transitioning world BrusselsForum gmfusglobal political, corporate, and intellectual leaders, include heads of state, officials from the EU institutions and member states, U.S. officials, congressional representatives, parliamentarians, academics,and  media, to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its efforts to destabilize the transitional government in Kyiv have reframed the relationship between Europe and Russia in Europe’s eastern neighborhood from an uneasy geopolitical balancing into full-on systemic conflict. The new Ukrainian government´s foreign minister, said. Today’s Russia is a threat. Today’s Ukraine is the new frontier to all people of good will. Being a European democracy is Ukraine’s free and sincere choice.

The European Union remains ready to support facilitating dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. The Council urge Russia to take steps to de-escalate the crisis, immediately withdraw its forces back to their pre-crisis numbers and garrisons in line with its international commitments, begin direct discussions with the government of Ukraine and avail itself of all relevant international mechanisms to find a peaceful and negotiated solution, in full respect of its bilateral and multilateral commitments to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Rather than its adroitness, the Ukrainian crisis highlights the failure of Russian strategy.

Friday 21th March 2014, prior to the European Council, EU signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.

Javier Solana argue that the immediate task is to stabilize the transition in Ukraine. The first and most pressing issue is to stabilize the government in Kyiv. Ukraine’s presidential election on May 25 will be a key moment. The vote must be free and fair, according to democratic standards. Moreover, it is essential that the state respects national minorities’ linguistic and cultural rights and promotes social inclusion. European aid should be conditioned on Ukraine’s performance in this area.

Second, the risk of conflict is greatest in Ukraine’s Russophone east, an OSCE mission should be deployed there to ensure stability, security, and respect for minorities, and to condemn, if necessary, violations of specified commitments. Javier Solana was EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO, and Foreign Minister of Spain.

The third issue ‒ and perhaps the most important ‒ is the pressing need for economic aid. The EU has prepared an €11 billion ($15 billion) aid package, though it is subject to rules and conditions set by the International Monetary Fund, which is contributing part of the total. Though Ukraine’s economy is collapsing, the government maintains excessive spending on subsidies that are incompatible with IMF aid. At present, for example, the government spends as much as 16% of its budget to subsidize the price of energy for every citizen. Negotiators are hoping to announce bilateral loans along side the IMF funding. Of course, EU also possess a considerable range of policy instruments with which they can influence and EU i seeking final approval for another €1.6 billion.

In the mean time, Russia has amassed enough forces on Ukraine’s border to reach the dispute region of Transnistria, NATO’s top military commander told the conference in Brussels on Sunday. Make no mistake Russia will continue to make life tough for Ukraine´s new government. And the battle for the country´s future won´t be settled with the Crimean referendum. The Kiev government said it was drawing up plans to evacuate its outnumbered troops from Crimea back to the mainland and would seek U.N. support.

On the second day of the ninth Brussels Forum, Catherine Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of European Commission, added her voice to the chorus of those condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Ashton said We Need to Support Ukrainian Democracy along with the economy, for that country to develop in the way that I believe it should.” “If we believe in these institutions, is backing the very democratic institutions we say we really care about.

It has been more than two decades since the Cold War ended, yet the legacy of that era still shapes the relationship well into the twenty-first century.

Moscow’s importance for Washington inevitably changed after the Soviet collapse. The United States had viewed the USSR as its major global rival and threat to its national interests. Both countries’ missiles had targeted each other, creating a balance of terror and the possibility of nuclear Armageddon.

All of that changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its demise ushered in fifteen new independent states of which Russia was by far the largest and the obvious legatee of the USSR. Washington no longer saw Russia as either an ideological or a military rival. But this new reality was a bitter pill for the Russian leadership and the population.

President Putin has declared that the breakup of the Soviet Union is the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. But the truth is that the Soviet system fell apart because it didn’t work, and countries simply did not want to be a part of it. But today, Putin has developed his own narrative. He envisions a Russian Empire buffered by states that are either weak or subservient.

The international turbulence of the period also had its impact. Churchill (The grand alliance principal architect) said the Russian danger … is our danger”. As UK foreign minister William Hague writes; “For twenty years Britain and our allies in Europe and Nato have gradually built a normal relationship with Russia”

  • Russia joined the G8 and the World Trade Organisation, we created the Nato-Russia Council, and we have worked together on the United Nations Security Council from Yemen to Somalia. We have all gained from this cooperation. But Russia’s actions in Ukraine hark back to a wholly different era.

After the Soviet empire collapsed, the hope was to have a Europe whole and free and for Russia to be a part of it. But to Putin, the ultimate revisionist, Russia has spent more than 20 years being insulted, unable to project its power, to persuade others or to stop others from projecting their power. He tells Russians not of their potential to join the world but that they are victims and have enemies.

Ms. Rice’s comments, which set the stage for Mr. Obama’s trip to Europe next week, suggested that the tensions between the United States and Russia were continuing to intensify. Asked if the Ukraine crisis was prompting a “fundamental reassessment” of America’s relationship with Russia, she answered in a single word: “Yes.”

Russia’s integration into the global political and economic order after the Cold War, Ms. Rice said, was predicated on its adherence to international rules and norms. “What we have seen in Ukraine is obviously a very egregious departure from that,”

In reality, Russia is more prosperous today than during the Soviet era, and its citizens benefit more from international involvement…But to Putin

Under Putin, Russia’s rhetoric can be described as a fantasy inside a delusion wrapped in a tissue of lies, said Madeleine Albright. He may believe that Ukrainians are fascists intending to attack Russians, but it is not true. Ukraine’s interim government is widely representative, and no outside observer has found evidence of a campaign of violence against Russians.

Many Russians equated respect with fear and found it hard to accept that the United States no longer regarded Russia as a rival. Since 1992, a central Russian objective has been to regain its status as a great power and be treated as an equal by the United States—a goal that was constantly frustrated. Moreover, the relationship is constrained by the two countries’ divergent value systems, in particular their contrasting views of the purposes and means of acceptable state behavior at home and abroad.

All nations, including Russia, depend on a rules-based international system. For those rules to remain credible there must be costs attached to breaking international agreements. This week both U.S and European nations adopted unprecedented sanctions on Russia. These are not designed to punish the Russian people. They are a message and a warning to Russia’s leaders for breaking international law and ageements. If we do not defend these principles in Ukraine, they will be threatened elsewhere in Europe and the world. The architecture of the 20th century global order system — is built mostly by the United States and Europe.

As questions about how the global order is to be reformed and by whom become more central, the unique capacities of Europe and of the United States will need to be deployed in concert to ensure that the future global order is more collaborative, open, and stable.

PHOTO: Carl Bildt on biggest achievements and failures of EU policy at BrusselsForum. Fall of Soviet Union was also a liberation for Russia.

Europe are also beginning to recognize the significance of diverse perspectives in shaping foreign policy and defense strategies and decision-making.

The EU has also developed an array of external economic policy instruments that it uses to project “soft power” on the world stage.

Today, the common interests of nations in the Euro-Atlantic region are more aligned than at any point since the end of World War II.

As Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, writes-  “We can only deal with challenges to the foundations of Europe’s peace and security in close cooperation with our democratic partners. ..What we now need is stronger EU cooperation on foreign and security policy as well”.

One of the very fundamental principles that everyone decided upon at the end of the Cold War, at the end of the Soviet Union, at the end of Yugoslavia, was: don’t change the borders,”Swedish Foreign minister Carl Bildt told CNBC on Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014.

Mr Bildt was a mediator during the Balkans conflict. His words came as the leaders of G-7 group, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, said Russia’s efforts to change the status of Crimea were “contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law.”The illegal annexation of Crimea is an outrageous land grab, and the referendum that preceded it was a mockery of democracy. Russia has invaded a fellow European nation, and used force to change its borders.

What’s happening is also about steadfastness. Russia is trying to drive a wedge between members of the international community. The Russian doctrine that Putin presented to a clapping Kremlin audience on Tuesday was about one thing: drawing new lines of “legitimate interests” that justify wars and annexations. But the world has seen this already. It is nothing new. It is history repeating as a farce.

President Obama is invited to have the first step in an ambitious agenda to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” proposed by Obama in a speech in Prague at the beginning of his first term, and followed it up with a number of early achievements. He reiterated the importance of his agenda in a June 2013 speech in Berlin. The danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear material or sabotaging nuclear facilities will be the focus of the third global Nuclear Security Summit that starts on 24 March in The Hague.

The news of Russia´s military movement will raise pressure on President Obama and his European allies. When President Obama and European allies meet next week, they can begin forming a meaningful response to Vladi­mir Putin’s adventurism. “This new strategy should note that Putin’s view of the world is rooted in dangerous fictions”, said Madeleine Albright and Jim O’Brien.  Madeleine was secretary of state from 1997 to 2001. Jim O’Brien was presidential envoy for the Balkans in the Clinton administration.

Discussions at the 2014 Brussels Forum built around the theme of “A World in Transition.” This theme is meant to reflect on two historical anniversaries that have shaped international relations in the last century — the 100-year commemoration of the beginning of World War I and the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Recent events have dealt Europe and the global security system their heaviest blows since the rise of the Berlin Wall.

NATO military Commander warned of further Russian aggression. The European Union and NATO have been shocked by Russia´s abandonment of the rules of cooperation and territorial integrity that have governed East-West relations for decades.  This is obviously a very worrying and fragile situation. At the Pentagon, senior officers and analysts said they were monitoring the Russian infantry, airborne, air defense and other reinforcements with growing alarm, uncertain of President Vladimir V. Putin’s ambitions.